Authorities are conducting investigations to determine whether a shipment of 18 human heads intercepted at the O'Hare Airport are what they suspect they are: legitimate medical specimens that missed their way.
According to CBS Chicago, Brian Bell, Chicago-based spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the heads were sent to Chicago from outside the US.
US Custom officials discovered the heads on Monday. Fox News reports that the grisly shipment came from Italy and may have been meant for use in scientific or medical research/experiment.
However, there were issues with the documentation of the shipment.
CBS Chicago reports Bell said: "There’s no issue with the transportation of body parts for medical purposes.There’s nothing against the law that says you cannot ship them, provided you have the right documentation."
He added: "Everybody here is ‘Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads’ and everybody thinks that it’s unheard of... It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We've seen it at various ports in the nation."
According to The Sun Times, airport authorities have declined to give detailed information about where the heads were shipped from and the intended destination. But The Sun Times reports that authorities say the specimens wrapped in plastic and still covered in skin, were sent to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office for inspection.
Authorities say they do not suspect foul play, but because of the possibility that they could be for the underground market in human body parts, Bell said: "We need to make sure that they are truly used for medical research purposes."
The Daily Mail reports that in 2010, a shipment of 60 human heads wrapped with duct tape and stuffed in plastic containers, was seized at an Arkansas airport.