Police work to ID body parts found in Sterling Heights sewer; parts appear to have tattoo

Police work to identify small body parts found by crews while repairing sanitary sewer in Sterling Heights

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - A crew repairing a sanitary sewer in Sterling Heights found what appear to be human body parts.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Luke Riley describes the parts as a dozen "small pieces." Contractors found them after shutting off two sewer lines Wednesday morning to drain water from the pipe so they could perform repairs.

IMAGES: Body parts found in Sterling Heights

The remains got caught on a metal grate, which workers were using for their repair operations 50 feet below the surface.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioners Anthony Marrocco says some of the remains have tattoos. Police hope images of the parts with tattoos can help identify the body.

"There is a constant flow through the sewer, comes all the way from Oakland County. So, continual flow, and then in the morning when they come back and work there is always something caught on the grate and built up, and this time it happened to be some body parts," said Marrocco.

The parts have no bones attached. They are hunks of human flesh which appear to be cut in about 6 to 8-inch pieces. Police say the parts belong to a white person, but it will take a DNA test to determine if it is a man or woman.

Investigators do not believe the parts had been in the sewer system for more than 2 hours. However, where the parts were dropped into the system is unclear. The best guess is north of where they were found.

"The investigators will start looking at the two lines that flow into here, where they come from," said Riley.

The crews have been working in the area since mid-June.

The 21-mile-long line begins in the Clarkston area and runs south to the Detroit River.

Hundreds of manhole covers are on streets along the way. 

Officials checked 1,000 feet in either direction of where the parts were found.

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