Custody Battle Ensues Over Leg Found in Barbecue Smoker
MAIDEN, N.C. – A South Carolina man who stored his severed leg in a barbecue smoker that was later auctioned off is locked in a custody dispute with a North Carolina man who found it.
John Wood's leg was amputated near the knee after a 2004 airplane crash. He asked doctors to give it to him so he could be buried as a whole man when he died.
The limb, which Wood had kept in the smoker in a storage facility after he lost his home, was bought by Shannon Whisnant last Tuesday in an auction held by the storage company because Wood had missed his monthly payments.
Whisnant initially gave it to police, who subsequently turned it over to a funeral home when it became clear it was not the result of foul play.
But Whisnant, who put a sign on the empty smoker charging adults $3 and children $1 for a look, now wants it back.
"He's making a freak show out of it," Wood told The Charlotte Observer for a Monday story. "He wants to put money in his pocket with this thing."
Whisnant, who was unsuccessful in his bid to get the leg from the funeral home, consulted with a lawyer and decided his best move was to persuade Wood to share custody and profits.
"It's a strange incident and Halloween's just around the corner," Whisnant said. "The price will be going up if I get [a stake in] the leg."
Wood, who is heading to Maiden to pick up his leg, said the two men can meet, but he is not interested in using the leg to make money.
"I just think it's despicable," he said. "I don't mind having the 15 minutes of fame, but I'm not looking to really profit off this thing."