4th organ found at wastewater treatment plant in Detroit determined to be deer heart

3 other organs found at plant still being tested

DETROIT – A fourth organ found at the wastewater treatment plant on Detroit's southwest side has been identified as a deer heart, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said.

The organ was found Saturday by a plant employee, officials said.

"A body part was brought into the MEO over the weekend," a spokesperson with the Medical Examiner's Office said. "It was determined to be a deer heart."

Three other organs that were found at the plant are still being tested, officials said.

An employee discovered the first organ at the plant Dec. 15, and officials sent it to the Medical Examiner's Office for testing. Police said the employee found the organ at the plant on West Jefferson Avenue at about 7:30 p.m.

Another organ was found the following day.

Here's the statement that was released by the Great Lakes Water Authority after the discovery of the first two organs:

"On Friday, staff members noticed an object in the Water Resource Recovery Facility's (formerly known as Wastewater Treatment Plant) wastewater screening area— the area that filters out debris from the wastewater before it goes into the treatment process.

"Staff members immediately notified the Detroit Police Department (DPD), who responded to the scene and took custody of the object. On Saturday, a second object was observed in the same area, and staff followed the same protocol, notifying DPD. We have no further information on what DPD has identified the object to be, or where it entered the wastewater system.

"This does not affect the water treatment process. We recommend that any further questions regarding the investigation be directed to the DPD."

Detroit police returned to the wastewater treatment plant on Dec. 20 after an apparent kidney was found, officials said.

Police said it was unknown if the first organ, which might be a liver or kidney, is from a human. The organ was turned over to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.

Police said medical officials have also not confirmed if the apparent kidney is human.

Staff members found the four apparent organs in the wastewater screening area, where debris from the wastewater is filtered out before going into the treatment process.

Each time an organ was found, the staff members called Detroit police to take custody of the organs, a spokesperson with the Great Lakes Water Authority said.

Here is a second statement provided by the Great Lakes Water Authority:

"The Wastewater Treatment Plant is a sewage treatment facility that receives the wastewater (sewage) from homes, businesses, industries and run off storm water through the sewer system. Wastewater is treated at this facility to meet federal and state environmental quality regulations before it can be discharged to the river.

"The screening mechanism was working as intended, filtering out the large objects before the wastewater went into the treatment process. The facility’s treatment processes meets all federal and state regulations, and we always return water back to the environment cleaner than when we received it.

"The wastewater treatment process is completely separate from the drinking water process, conducted in separate facilities located at different sites, and are unrelated. No treated water from the wastewater plant enters into the drinking water facilities."

About the Authors: