In an attic, behind a door, in a dark crawl space, a demolition worker discovered what appeared to be a human skull Tuesday afternoon.
By Wednesday morning, the vacant Logan Square two-flat was swarming with Chicago Police. Cook County medical examiner investigators came and went. A biohazard cleaning company came to remove the skull, carrying it away in a nondescript red plastic sack, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Kathy Utterback happened to be driving by the two-flat that her family sold late last year.
“I saw police cars out in front,” said Utterback, who lives in the same neighborhood. “I saw police tape across the front porch, and I thought, ‘Oh my God!’”
A little while later, Utterback said she was laughing with a Chicago police detective, after telling him the “skull” was a Halloween decoration that her older brother misplaced some 30 years ago.
“The detective was cracking up on the phone,” Utterback said.
Utterback said her brother, who had lived in the attic of the two-flat in the late 1970s, worked as a downtown janitor in his early 20s. He picked up the skull — which he thought was a fake — while cleaning out a vacant doctor’s office, she said.
“He brought it home and they used it as a Halloween decoration,” she said. Her brother apparently stored it in the crawl space and then forgot about it, Utterback said.
Enter David Nelson, the man who discovered the skull Tuesday afternoon, while tearing out drywall in the building’s attic — part of a larger gut-rehab of the building.
“I didn’t examine it very well,” Nelson said. “Once I caught on to what it was, I just put it down. ... I’m not really an explorer in that territory.”
Nelson said he found the discovery a little “freaky.”
The skull, wrapped in a plastic Jewel shopping bag, was found inside a 10-foot-square storage area that had a little door cut out of the drywall, said Brian O’Malley, a contractor with Ashford Group LLC.
“It’s old — much older than the bag it was in,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley described the skull as “clean.”
“It could be a kid who stole it from a biology class and didn’t know what to do with it,” O’Malley said. “It’s all speculation.”
Chicago Police said no other body parts were found. Chicago Police Officer Veejay Zala, a department spokesman, says the “M.E. is investigating the authenticity of the skull.”