The skull of a human child that, until yesterday, was for sale on Craigslist has been turned over to authorities, Phoenix police confirm to New Times.
Phoenix Sergeant Trent Crump told New Times yesterday that there is nothing illegal about possessing a human skull "unless you kill the person to get it."
A further description of the legality of possessing human remains can be found in our post from yesterday, which you can see here.
Crump says the owner of the skull, north Phoenix resident Mike Hale, voluntarily turned the remains over to police after word spread that he was in possession of a human skull.
Crump wouldn't say whether police requested he turn over the skull, just that "[Phoenix police] have some responsibility to try to determine the circumstances around its discovery. It doesn't mean it's illegal."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Crump says Hale could potentially have the skull returned to him, "if he so desired."
Hale told ABC15 that he bought the skull at a garage sale near 35th and Northern Avenues for $1. He's selling it on Craigslist for $300. He's reportedly had about 20 inquiries about his human skull.
The website www.boneroom.com, a "natural history store," further clarifies the legality of owning a human skull:
It is perfectly legal possess and to sell Human Bones in the United States. One of the main sources of confusion on this issue is that prior to 1987, the majority of human bones for sale here and in other countries were prepared in India. In 1987, India stopped its exportation of human bones. Many US news sources phrased it as a ban on the sale of human bones rather than as a ban on exportation from one particular country with no effect on United States laws.
Once India stopped exporting human bones China took over as the main supplier of human bones to the United States. However, just prior to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing China too stopped exporting human material. No other country has yet stepped up and material is much more scarce than it once was, but a decent number of bones from India and China still remain in the United States and may be freely sold.