Cadaver dogs were brought in Thursday morning after police said they found three severed human limbs within several hours of one another near train tracks in New Haven.
A pair of human legs was found along a fence in thick foliage near the State Street Railroad Station on Court Street late Wednesday morning, according to police.
New Haven Officer David Hartman said a “rotting smell” caused police to make another discovery around 7 p.m.
About a block away, police discovered a human arm in a plastic bag on a ledge below the Chapel Street Bridge near Union Avenue. On Thursday, police said there were actually two arms found in that plastic bag.
Both arms are missing their hands. The part of the arms was from the shoulder to the wrists.
Police cadaver dogs checked up and down the tracks on State Street on Thursday, even looking near Union Station.
"Detectives from our forensic unit opened the bag and found what appears to be a human arm, at least one human arm,” Hartman said.
With this latest discovery of the arms wrapped in plastic, police said a train accident has been ruled out as the cause of death.
"A couple of days ago, probably Monday, I thought I smelled something a little odd, like a dead animal,” Michael Fumiatti, who works in downtown New Haven, said. “[I] never gave it a second thought."
Hartman said it's not clear if the limbs belong to a single person. He added, the limbs are so decomposed that they cannot determine the race and gender of the person.
The legs were badly decomposed, officials said, making it difficult to identify them.
Police said they believe it’s not likely the limbs were dismembered at these spots, which means they were dumped there.
“We have bizarre cases from time to time, but I can't remember any case where we've found body parts, certainly not in recent memory,” Hartman said. "It would be incredibly coincidental if they were separate cases, and also I'd say incredibly disturbing if they were separate cases."
Many in the downtown area said the whole incident makes their scene crawl.
"I think it’s totally insane. It’s crazy. Legs? This city is going down under,” Darlene Galberth, of New Haven, said.
Officials with the Chief Medical Examiner’s office are working to identify the body parts. Police said they will be combing through missing persons reports. But, they added that they were reaching out to other departments.
Dr. Henry C. Lee, a world-renowned forensic scientist, used to run the state police lab and said cases like this involve team work.
"I've been in this forensic field and police field for more than 56 years, investigate 300 to 400 dismembering cases," Lee said.
He said forensic scientists will try to determine the age, race and gender, along with examining the plastic bag the arms were in and even the socks on the legs to see if they can get a fiber of a hair to see if DNA can help identify the victim or even a suspect.
"Once you find three pieces of the same profile, you can pit in a national DNA bank, try to search missing person file, try to search criminal record file," Lee said.
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.