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Body Parts Found In Central District Recycling Bin

The white garbage bags contained human remains. It was found by a resident on the 1600 block of 21st Avenue in Seattle's Central District.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
The white garbage bags contained what appeared to be human remains. It was found by a resident on the 1600 block of 21st Avenue in Seattle's Central District.

Seattle police are investigating the discovery of suspected human remains – including a foot with toenail polish – found in a recycling bin outside a house in the city's Central Area.

The man who found the remains on Saturday afternoon was returning from a funeral to his home on the 1600 block of 21st Avenue. He parked his car then went out to pull in his recycling bin.

The bin felt heavier than it should have, so he looked in and pulled out two medium-sized garbage bags. These were white bags, ones for garbage cans typically kept under the kitchen sink, with orange ties. They were about three-quarters full, according to a neighbor who stood with the man on the sidewalk, and they were heavy.

The neighbor stood about a foot from the bags and said they did not smell.

Further examination revealed what appeared to be a foot with toenail polish on it, according to the neighbor. There was also what appeared to be dried blood on the foot. The man called police at 4 p.m.; one patrol car responded.

A neighbor who lives several doors down said she saw the police officer return to his car and pull on blue gloves.

“My first instinct was that there was an injured animal over there,” said the woman, who has owned her home for 19 years.  She asked to not be named.

More officers and at least one homicide detective arrived at the scene and cordoned off about 10 houses. Police told neighbors it was an active crime scene. They checked other bins on the block. 

The incident roused interest among neighbors on this usually quiet street. One little girl brought out binoculars to examine the scene from her end of the street. Children were out because it was warm, and because there was an ice cream truck on the block.

The man who found the remains gave his police statement on a neighbor’s stoop. The neighbor who gave him a glass of water said he seemed shaken.

Other neighbors, too, were rattled, and most didn’t want to be named. All wondered about the victim. For the neighbor several doors down, it took an hour and a half for the reality of the likely crime to sink in.

“It didn’t hit me until I heard about the nail polish,” she said. “When it’s assumed to be violence against a woman by a man, it hits harder.”

“That person has a family,” she continued. “Who knows what life you live to lead there – although it could be totally random – but somebody loved that person.”   

The King County Medical Examiner later said the items were likely human remains, according to Seattle police. The medical examiner's office said it would have more information on the victim at 3:30 p.m. on Monday at the earliest.

Police are asking anyone with information about the case to contact the department tip line, 206-233-5000. 

Year started with KUOW: 1998.