LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities continued to investigate Thursday the theft of a human leg from a vehicle belonging to an organ donation organization that works with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Los Angeles police spokesman Officer Jack Richter confirmed an investigation was being conducted, but he declined to elaborate, other than to say the leg had not been recovered.
Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter released the following statement: “The office of Medical Examiner-Coroner is aware of — and distressed by — the theft of a body part after its transfer from the county to One Legacy, our organ and tissue procurement organization. This harvesting was done with the permission of the next of kin.
“At this time, as we continue to gather details, the department will have no additional comment.”
The vehicle belonged to One Legacy, whose employees had stopped at the Original Pantry Café for a meal at around 5 a.m. Monday, during which time the limb was stolen. The leg had been wrapped up, making it possible that the thieves did not know they were stealing a human body part.
One Legacy said the donor’s family has been notified, and a DNA sample from the donor was taken in order to identify any limb that is recovered.
Confidentiality laws prevent the coroner from releasing any information about the donor’s identity.
According to a memo from Mark Fajardo, the county’s chief medical examiner-coroner, to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, coroner’s officials and One Legacy are trying to find out who leaked information about the theft to the media.
“As it stands today, we do not know who ‘leaked’ the information, but it appears at face value to be one of my employees,” Fajardo wrote in his letter to the Board of Supervisors.
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