Phoenix police: Workers find apparent human remains in sewer

Police on Thursday said they searched a wastewater sewer system in a neighborhood where partial human remains were found after city workers investigated a clog.

A Phoenix Police Department spokesman, Officer James Holmes, said workers found remains in a sewer line Wednesday night after a resident of the neighborhood called to complain about toilets "not flushing and water wasn't leaving their house as it should."

The workers who checked the sewer stopped and called police upon discovering the remains, Holmes said.

Holmes said the remains found were dismembered parts of an adult's body but that it wasn't known how the person died or how or where the body was dismembered. "That forces us to treat it like a homicide," he said.

Holmes declined to say what body parts were found, and he said the person's gender and ethnicity weren't known. "There's loved ones out there missing someone," he said.

The wastewater system line's 8-inch pipe is much too small for a person to crawl through, so workers used cameras to look for additional remains and possible evidence, Holmes said. They're also planning to use tools to move anything in the pipe to manholes where it can be inspected, he said.

An autopsy will be conducted to try to provide answers, but the circumstances of the discovery poses difficulties, Holmes said. "You have gases, you have waste, water, all kinds of things that would affect the remains," he said.