Tennessee workers find human heart in salt depot

Workers making brine at a salt depot in Tennessee made a grotesque discovery last week when they found a desiccated human heart, prompting a law enforcement investigation.

The organ was found in a salt mound at a department of transportation salt facility in McEwen, Tennessee, about 60 miles south-west of Nashville, state officials said.

“An initial examination of the heart determined that it was that of an adult male,” the Tennessee bureau of investigation said in a statement. “Additional DNA testing will be performed to try to determine its origin.”

The bureau’s investigation into how a human heart ended up at the salt depot and whether it was the result of a crime was “active and ongoing”, the agency added.

NBC affiliate WSMV in Nashville reported that the discovery was made as workers retrieved salt from their barn. They initially believed the heart to be a weirdly shaped rock, and it appeared to be there for some time.

“I’ve got 32 years in law enforcement – I do have to say this is probably in the top five of most bizarre things that I’ve ever seen,” said the local sheriff, Chris Davis.

A search for other stray organs or body parts remains ongoing. “We’re just going to keep doing that until we feel really good that there’s no other remains here on the scene,” Davis said.

“Somebody, somewhere knows and we’re seeking information,” he added. “I always reach out to the public if you happen to have any idea or just an inclination.”

The sheriff said he appreciated that salt workers had acted on an uneasy feeling and informed law enforcement.

“They did act out of suspicion and my hat’s off to them,” Davis said. “You know, they got to thinking and when they got that first inclination or doubt in their mind they made the right call.

“I’m very appreciative of that and hopefully when we can find the rest of the remains, then the family, I hope, will be thankful for that as well.”

Tennessee’s department of transportation is “fully cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigation”, a spokesperson with the agency said Monday.

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