Gruesome indeed, but true? The story appeared in an Indiana newspaper the day
after the fire. Temperatures were in freezing range and
fire engines had added water to whatever snowfall or
rainfall fell overnight, so a thickness of two
inches is believable, two feet not so much.
loose body part story appeared two weeks later, but in a
credible publication, the Chicago Tribune.
It was a man's hand, discovered in debris taken from
inside the auditorium and sorted
at the custodian's office. Reportedly
the hand had been severed from the arm and the fingers, though missing, had been large.
Authorities presumed the amputation was the work of
a ring-stealing thief and speculated the rest of the
body had been burned to ashes. It's plausible
that a man without family or connections could have
disappeared without arousing an investigation but
total destruction of the remainder of the body seems
an abundance of jewelry on display at the Iroquois.
Rings prominent enough to tempt a thief might
suggest wealth and/or marriage, either of which
would reduce the likelihood of his absence going
It is a
little puzzling that officials reached the
conclusion the hand did not belong to an identified
victim. There were reports from first responders of
limbs separating from bodies as badly burned victims
were disentangled from stacks of people. That
means at least a few bodies arrived at the morgue in
more than one piece.
The thief likely amputated the hand then took it to a hiding place to remove the
fingers. Much was made in newspapers about
workers at the custodian's office sifting through ashes and floor debris
with mining type screens but there was no mention of fingers turning up
during this process. It's believable that one or two fingers were
missed but not all five.
Nothing was reported about how such victims were presented for purposes of
victim identification but it is not difficult to imagine a hand being
overlooked on a badly burned body.