01/15/2013 10:15 am ET Updated Jan 15, 2013

Human Heads At O'Hare: Customs Officials Find Shipment Of 18 Severed Heads With Skin Still On

Customs officials made the shocking discovery of 18 severed human heads at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, investigators were checking to ensure the human heads with skin still on—and wrapped in plastic—were less sinister than they seem, reports the Sun-Times.

According to the Tribune, the embalmed heads came from a research facility in Rome on a Lufthansa Airlines flight about a week before Christmas but a "paperwork snafu" snagged the shipment; the final destination of the three coolers was not clearly marked.

Brian Bell, a Chicago-based spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the discovery body parts, which "at first blush" appeared to be for medical purposes, is not entirely uncommon.

"Everybody here is ‘Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads’ and everybody thinks that it’s unheard of,” Bell said according to CBS Chicago. “It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We’ve seen it at various ports in the nation.”

Bell went on to say shipping body parts for medical purposes is perfectly legal—with the right documentation.

A Fox Chicago broadcast reports the heads were initially handed over the Cook County Medical Examiner to ensure they didn't belong to victims of a crime.

The remaining head-scratcher: where are the heads going? The Tribune reports officials saying the recipient of the shipment has not yet come forward.



Scariest U.S. Airports