Bangkok, Nov 18: Thai police issued arrest warrants today for two Americans who attempted to mail a preserved baby's head, foot and other human body parts to the United States, saying the objects were stolen from a Thai medical museum.
The bizarre case has quickly gained international attention, with Thai police asking Cambodian authorities to help locate the men, who traveled to the neighboring country on Sunday, and the FBI helping with the investigation in the United States. Police questioned Ryan McPherson, 31, and his friend, Daniel Tanner, 33, over the weekend in Bangkok, but released them and allowed them to travel to Cambodia.
But new elements emerged after their departure, prompting the arrest warrants to be issued on charges of theft, possessing stolen items and falsely declaring the items on shipping documents, said police Maj. Gen. Sombat Milintachinda, the head of Bangkok's police investigation bureau.
"Our evidence indicates that they either stole the body parts, or they bought them from other people," he said. "We have to bring them back for more questioning." It was apparently not the first brush with notoriety for McPherson and Tanner. Photos of the two talking with police on Sunday closely resemble men by the same names and ages who were producers over a decade ago of a video series featuring homeless people brawling and performing dangerous stunts after being paid by the filmmakers, who were based in Las Vegas.
The "Bumfights" videos were banned in several communities and generally shunned by retailers after criticism that the films' subjects were being exploited. The case of the body parts emerged over the weekend when parcel delivery company DHL said it had scanned three US-bound packages labeled as toys and detected five human body parts preserved in formaldehyde.
DHL alerted police who tracked down the senders, McPherson and Tanner, and brought them in for questioning. They told police they had bought the body parts at a Bangkok night market an infant's head, a baby's foot sliced into three sections, an adult's heart with a stab wound and two slices of tattooed skin.
All of the objects were preserved separately in acrylic boxes with formaldehyde. The men told police they thought the items were "bizarre" and "wanted to ship them to friends to surprise them," Sombat and other police said. But new details emerged on Monday when one of Bangkok's biggest hospitals, Siriraj Hospital, said the body parts were stolen from the hospital's anatomy museum and its forensic medicine museum which the two men had visited last week.