Longform

Suzi Dodt’s on a mission to return the nameless dead to their loved ones

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One afternoon not long ago, Suzi Dodt stepped into one of the freezers at the morgue, lifted a bowl from a shelf and carried it into a room normally used for autopsies.

She carefully set the bowl down on a towel she had placed on a stainless-steel slab and turned on a bright light.

Then Dodt put on a pair of latex gloves and dipped her hand into a bluish liquid.

From out of the liquid came what she ­referrred to as "Mr. Hand, Mr. Finger, The Thing, whatever you want to call it."

It was surreal, seeing part of someone's hand, with the skin still on and two fingers and a thumb, resting on a white towel with the light shining starkly down on it.

Dodt stared at the hand, lost in thought, before speaking.

"That mummified hand belongs to somebody," she says. "He may be dead or alive, though I'm not going with alive at the moment."

Dodt gently lifted the hand and placed it back in its bowl.

"I would just love," she said, "to find out whose hand this is!"

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin