PORT HURON, Mich. – Medical examiners and law enforcement officials are working to determine the origins of mummified human skeletal remains confiscated from the home of a woman who police say was trying to sell them on eBay.
"We got a call from a person in North Carolina who happened to have spotted it on eBay, and they called and told us that there was a mummy for sale on eBay," said Port Huron police Capt. Don Porrett. "Of course our reaction was `So?' Until the person tracked it and told us that the person selling it was from Port Huron."
Porrett said she told police she obtained the remains from a friend, who works in demolition and who said he found them in a Detroit school he helped demolish nearly 30 years ago.
Sterling told the Times Herald that she was selling the item for a friend, had done research and contacted an attorney before posting the remains on eBay.
"It's an anatomical, medical-use skeleton," she said. "I would never have put it on [eBay] if I thought it was anything other than an anatomical, medical thing."
Company spokeswoman Catherine England said the posting was removed from eBay Wednesday morning because it violated a policy against selling human remains. The Web site allows the sale of skeletons for medical use, but not mummified remains.
St. Clair County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz described the remains as an intact skeleton with mummified tissue. He said age, sex and race could not yet be determined.
"We looked at it yesterday," Spitz said. "This looks to be the very old skeletal remains of what appears to be a child. It's very, very old. It's probably some type of anatomical dissection that was part of an anatomy class that over time got into the hands of somebody in the general public."
Spitz said the remains will be sent to an anthropologist at Michigan State University for further examination.
Porrett said charges appear unlikely and said police are trying to track down the woman's friend.
He said the curiosity had attracted at least one bid prior to being removed.
"There was a bid on it for $500 from `Satan's Child,"' Porrett said.