The 13th Floor

Gruesome Discovery: Bag of 54 Human Hands Found on Russian Island

Virtually every aspect of this case — even the eventual explanation by investigating officials — is freaky as hell, so it’s no surprise the once-obscure headline achieved viral notoriety over the past week.

According to the Siberian Times, the nightmare began when a single severed human hand was discovered on a small island in the Amur River, near the north Russian city of Khabarovsk… and soon after, a bag containing 54 more hands (27 matched pairs) was found.

At first, authorities were baffled at the macabre collection; the hands were fairly well-preserved by the cold, and a forensics expert was able to lift fingerprints from at least one of the severed appendages, but initially they could not connect those prints to any known records.

Many theories about the bag’s grisly contents arose during the investigation, including the possibility these hands were evidence of a horrific punishment, the macabre collection of a serial killer, or the aftermath of a mass execution by an unknown criminal organization.

As it turned out, the truth behind the case is not quite as violent as those theories suggest… but it’s still extremely unsettling.

Bandages and other medical paraphernalia were also found with the bag, and provided the first key to the puzzle. According to a newly-released telegram from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the hands may have been discarded by a forensics lab in Khabarovsk, possibly by a lazy staffer who didn’t follow the standard procedure for amputated limbs — which is normally to incinerate them.

“The biological objects found are not of a criminal origin,” the committee stated, “but were disposed of in a manner not provided for by law.” They went on to say the investigation is now extending to the medical institution(s) allegedly responsible for this highly unorthodox disposal.