Staten Island

Mystery of Human Hand Found in Staten Island Forest Solved by Police

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An investigation has solved why a human's decomposed hand was found in the woods of Staten Island by a dogwalker, according to police.

The grisly find was made in North Mount Loretto State Forest, near Amboy and Cunningham roads, around 2:40 p.m. Thursday. Officers responded to the 200-acre expanse on the South Shore, as did the medical examiner's office.

Police said that a fingerprint analysis of the hand revealed that it belonged to a woman who had died in 2011. That woman, who was 63 when she died, is buried at nearby Resurrection Cemetery on Sharrot Avenue, according to police.

So how did the woman's hand end up in the nature preserve? It's believed that equipment which had been used to excavate a neighboring grave on Feb. 27 may have damaged the woman's casket, and led to her hand being removed from the rest of her body, police said.

"We have been informed that the remains of an individual who was buried at Resurrection Cemetery were disturbed, and some portions of those remains were discovered at some distance from the cemetery," a statement from the Archdiocese of New York, which runs the cemetery, said.

"While at this point we do not know what transpired, we take this matter with great seriousness and will conduct an investigation, as well as cooperate in any investigation that civil authorities might undertake."

While it doesn't completely explain how the hand ended up in the nature preserve — perhaps the dirt and soil from the excavated grave was moved there, or wild animals got ahold of it — it does rule out any criminality in the case.

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