Did That Body Just Move?

Investigating Buried Remains

Many years ago, deer hunters discovered partially buried human skeletal remains in a remote and heavily wooded area in a southern state. Local law enforcement was notified and they, in turn, asked for the assistance of a forensic anthropologist. Arriving late in the afternoon, Dr. Snow began excavation but soon decided that the scene would need to be secured and excavation completed the following morning in daylight. It was now nearly dark, and lengthening shadows made for an eerie scene.

Strangely, the torso had been buried in a wooden peach crate, one end of which had been removed to allow the legs to protrude. Although the peach crate protected the torso, the legs, though once buried, had been partially dug up by scavengers.

Perhaps ten minutes had elapsed since excavation of the remains had begun, and law enforcement personnel were putting away their equipment for the following day, leaving only one crime scene investigator and Dr. Snow. Just as they, too, were preparing to leave the site, a sound came from within the area of the torso—a small grunt followed by the sound of scratching. Moments later, the sound became louder, and the bones of the pelvis began to move slightly. The crime scene investigator turned to Dr. Snow and whispered, “Did that body just move?” It truly made one’s hair stand on end.

Moments later, a small pink nose emerged between the two halves of the pelvis, sniffing the air and swinging from side to side. Shortly thereafter, the head of a possum followed. By this time, Dr. Snow had backed away from the remains perhaps six feet or so. Sensing no danger, the possum fully emerged and waddled off unconcernedly. The crime scene investigator was nowhere to be found.

The following morning, excavation of the remains revealed that the possum had taken up residence under the peach crate and had apparently called the remains home for quite some time. Clothing from the decedent was found in a pile that the possum used as a bed. You can’t make this stuff up.