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Foot found in Spotsylvania County turns out to be that of an ape

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Date published: 2/13/2007


It's also unclear how the foot got to the landfill. Theories have included that it was dumped by a hunter, a taxidermist or a traveling animal exhibitor putting on shows for a fee.

Sheriff Smith said his office's investigation essentially ended when they were told it wasn't a human foot. But he noted that it's against county law to have a pet primate or to dump animal carcasses. It also could be an animal cruelty case.

Mary Beth Sweetland, director of research and investigations at PETA in Norfolk, said she hopes there is further investigation.

"But cruelty-to-animal cases often are given short shrift," Sweetland said.

Smith said his office will open the investigation if someone comes forward with more information. For now, he's thankful the foot isn't that of a human.

"The good news is that we don't have a homicide," he said.

Staff reporter Michael Zitz contributed to this report.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5424
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com

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Disposal methods Early speculation about the severed foot discovered Saturday at the Livingston Landfill was that it was human and perhaps the result of a medical amputation.

Mahogany Hart, Mary Washington Hospital spokeswoman, said yesterday that amputated limbs are removed from the operating room and stored in the hospital morgue until all testing is done. Then, a Roanoke company, Sci Med Waste Management, makes weekly pickups and disposes of the limbs by incineration.

--Jim Hall

Experts disagree on the origin of the foot. Some disagree that it is of a primate and believe it appears more human.