Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Bag of Bones

At the beginning of the 20th Century, those lowly denizens of New York City's less fortunate neighborhoods, the Bowery for instance, who found themselves without the funds to secure lodging on any given night, could for a small sum pay to have their belongings stowed in the basements of hotels such as Mills Hotel No. 8. As is frequently the case under such destitute and harsh conditions, the owners often left the bags unclaimed as they met untimely ends.  However, in some situations, it was advantageous to leave one's belongings elsewhere, lost among hundreds of others.

On June 26, 1919 the hotel staff began the task of clearing out unclaimed bags, surely taking whatever was useful or of value. So, when porters began to inspect a particularly pricey suitcase, they wondered why someone in need wouldn't have sold such an item, collected the cash, and purchased a far cheaper container for their belongings. It seemed the answer rattled dully within the fine leather clad case.

As the men cracked open the suitcase, they were horrified to find a fully disarticulated skeleton inside, remnants of flesh still clinging loosely in various spots.

Once the police were called, a cursory examination revealed that several of the long bones had been sawed through partially and then, in what seems to be a demonstration of impatience, snapped off the rest of the way. The flesh had been stripped with a knife, the remains treated with quicklime, and then the bones were cushioned inside the case with a padding of raw cotton, two towels, and newspapers dating back nearly four years. The towels, investigators stated, were of a type intended for "feminine use," which I can only assume is some type of euphemism.

The image above is the only Mills Hotel extant in New York City. It was built in 1879. It can be presumed that Mills Hotel No. 8 was of a similiar style.

1 comment:

Autumnforest said...

Okay, that's pretty intense and pretty cool--seems like the beginning of a really good horror story that backtracks how the body got there. You have to wonder about the carelessness to just snap it up and yet the carefulness of packing it just right. That was a wicked story--good find!