03/13/2012 06:48 pm ET

Child's Fingers Found In Dumpster: Hawaii Police Puzzled By Discovery

Authorities in Hawaii are trying to determine how human fingers belonging to an unidentified child wound up in a dumpster.

A woman collecting recyclables made the startling discovery on Feb. 12 inside a large steel waste receptacle at the Kukui Garden Housing Complex in Liliha. Gina Rose Vendegna found two complete fingers and four partial fingers inside a plastic bag that had been thrown into the dumpster, Honolulu police said.

"I thought [the fingers] were ginger root starting to dry out. I'm a gardener and I recycle, and I thought I'd be able restore them. So I threw them in my purse," Vendegna told KHON-TV.

It was not until later that day that the Kalihi mother of five realized the items in the plastic bag were not part of a plant.

"I knew for a fact those were fingers when I seen the fingernails," Vendegna said. "And people I tried showing them to tried telling me that it wasn't, that it might be monkey fingers. And I thought just by chance I'm going to call the police department, turn [them] in and let them decide."

Sgt. Kim Buffett with Honolulu CrimeStoppers told The Huffington Post that a forensic examination of the fingers could not determine whether the child was alive when the fingers were removed.

"[They were] unable to tell," said Buffett. She also said the medical examiner was "unable to determine how long [the fingers] had been like that."

Laboratory testing did reportedly indicate that all six fingers came from the same person -- a female child thought to be between 2-1/2 and 4 years old.

Police say Vendegna is not considered a suspect in the case. They also say they have yet to find any other related body parts.

"Just the fingers, sadly enough," Buffett said. "It's disturbing. We hope [the child is alive]."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 808-955-8300.


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