From time to time in this blog I have covered various ways of disposing of bodies. These methods have included turning them into trees, into raw sewage, and into diamonds, as well as shooting them off into space and burying them in your backyard.
What I’ve never discussed, however, is what to do with bodies that have already been disposed of. This, evidently, is a situation that occurs frequently in the Daytona Beach area. Often enough, in fact, that the local newspaper ran an article entitled “What To Do If You Find Human Remains.”
I would assume that the instructions for such a thing would begin after you’re done shrieking like a small child who has seen a clown in person for the first time. I still remember when this happened with my daughter when she was around two, and the clown said hello, and she screamed as if she had just come across some human remains.
Getting back to the newspaper article, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jim Troiano had some helpful advice when the reporter asked what a person should do if they discover human remains. “Do not touch or disturb them,” he replied. Troiano didn’t mention this, but perhaps you could outline the body with the chalk you apparently should always have with you if you live in Flagler County.
As someone who has seen every episode of The Walking Dead, I can assure Mr. Troiano that touching the remains would not be my initial response. I might be inclined to call out “Yoo hoo, are you dead?” from behind a rock several yards away, but that’s about as close as I would come to disturbing the remains in any way.
“Whom should they notify?” asks the reporter, a question which, while grammatically correct, is also pretty stupid. I mean, sure, if a millennial found a body they’d probably call their parents (after they posted photos of it on Instagram), but adults know to call law enforcement officials because our extensive life experience has taught us that the police enjoy being the first people to touch and disturb human remains.
Regarding photos, however, it actually is okay to take pictures of the remains. “Especially if they are in the process of being disturbed,” says Mr. Troiano.
Well, if it was me trying to focus my iPhone on the body, I would definitely be in the process of being disturbed. I might even remain disturbed for quite some time afterward. “If they did take photos,“ Troiano adds, “please be prepared to provide them to law enforcement.”
A quick tip here: you probably shouldn’t use FaceApp to make the remains look younger before you turn the pictures over to the sheriff.
Now if the remains appear to be recent, which I assume means there’s still skin and flesh laying around, you may be wondering if you should look for identification or, because I know you, valuables of some kind. Well, first, you should not look for identification if the body is naked. And second, you should not touch anything, not even that thick wallet laying in the mud a few feet away.
“Think like a CSI,” says Troiano. “What you bring to the scene with you on your shoes or person can contaminate the scene and when you leave you can take parts of the crime scene with you on your shoes or clothing.”
This is why Daytona Beach residents always carry a change of clothes.
If this happened to me (the finding the body part, not the being the body part), I would wait until I got home before taking off and disposing of my clothes at the front door.
“Why are you standing in the doorway in your underwear?” my wife would naturally ask. “And please come in before the neighbors see you.”
“I didn’t want to bring parts of a crime scene into our house,” I would reply. “Would you like to see pictures of the body?”
At which point my wife would either be completely grossed out or criticize my iPhone photography skills. (“You should have held it horizontally!”)
I’ll leave you now with one more piece of advice, and this is from me, not the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. If your local newspaper thinks it’s necessary to publish an article called “What To Do If You Find Human Remains,” don’t contact law enforcement.
Call your realtor.
See you soon.