Authorities searching for clues after heart is found in bag

Cary Ashby • Updated Sep 8, 2016 at 11:05 PM

Authorities are looking for leads in a case involving what is believed to be a human heart found in a bag in Norwalk.

However, area law enforcement officials are unaware of any unsolved cases involving a dead body from which the heart was removed.

“I haven’t heard anything like that,” said Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light, who also isn’t aware of any area cases of grave robberies or corpses being abused.

Jill Del Greco, spokeswoman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said Thursday she is not aware of the agency being called in for any cases with a missing heart.

“We wouldn’t necessarily hear about it,” Del Greco said. “Most cases are handled at the local level.”

The Reflector published a story Sept. 3, breaking the news about a suspected human heart found in a plastic bag in Norwalk.

“I hoped the story in the paper would help give us a tip,” Light said Thursday.

North Central EMS personnel discovered the heart Aug. 25 in the field on the south side of the Friendship Food Stores building, closer to Milan Avenue.

“It was just a little ways into that field off the parking lot. It was in a plastic bag,” said Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton, who first provided information to the Reflector.

Paramedics made the discovery, having returned to Friendship from a call. The crew had parked an ambulance there for the purpose of coverage.

Fulton has said the heart wasn’t there when North Central first was at the convenience store, but was in the field upon their return. The detective estimated the crew was gone about an hour, possibly less.

“They called their dispatch first,” Fulton said. “And they were told to call the police department.”

Light was asked Thursday if paramedics could identify the item positively as a human heart.

“The paramedics weren’t sure what they had, so they called us,” the chief said. 

Officers arrived and called Huron County Coroner Dr. Jeff Harwood. The coroner placed the heart and bag in a cooler and the next day, an officer transported it to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office for testing.

“It was fresh; it wasn’t decomposed,” said Light, who noted there are some animals that have hearts that are similar to a human’s.

Harwood, in a separate interview, said when he saw the heart “it was in pretty good condition,” but it “had an odor of decomposition to it.” 

The coroner was asked if the heart appeared to be human.

“I could not say it was not, so that’s why we shipped it off,” Harwood said.

Light said the coroner’s office performed a biopsy and then sent the heart to a veterinarian for further examination. 

“They’re 95 percent sure it was human,” he said, “but they want to make 100 percent sure.”

Harwood, who confirmed that Lucas County examined the heart, said no one has stepped forward to claim it. 

“They wanted to do some tests on the fluid to see if it’s a preservative,” the coroner said.

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