Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

March 20, 2013

Full skeleton discovered in hospital basement to go on display at ORHC

OTTUMWA — Everyone has skeletons in their closet, including St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Crews were shocked to find one person left in St. Joe’s when they began cleaning it out in early spring 2012.

The full skeleton has been dubbed “Mr. Bones.” A maintenance worker uncovered him in the basement of the 88-year-old hospital when staff began cleaning it out last year to prepare for the open house and blessing of the hospital, which is slated for demolition.

“We went floor by floor, cleaning out every room, closet and drawer,” said Suzie Wood, executive director of development at Ottumwa Regional Health Center.

Mr. Bones had been hanging out in the closet for 70-80 years, Wood said, before the maintenance worker opened the closet door and was greeted with the gaunt face.

“But he’s been very well preserved,” Wood said. “He has all his teeth, his toes, his fingers and his vertebrae — even his cartilage is still attached.”

But staff have been unable to find any information on the identity of the man.

“I contacted the Sisters [of Humility], who have their archives of information on the hospital in Davenport,” Wood said. “They have archives and archives of photos and testimonials, but they have no record of him at all.”

Current ORHC employees even asked their parents and grandparents who had worked at St. Joe’s in the 1930s, 40s and 50s; nobody had ever heard of the skeleton.

The most accurate information hospital staff have found is that he was donated to St. Joe’s around 1937 or 1938 to be used as a teaching tool in the X-ray department.

And Mr. Bones is, in fact, a “mister.” Dr. Bradley Scott, an orthopedic surgeon at ORHC, confirmed his sex earlier this year. Scott also identified the man as being in his mid-80s when he died due to the structure of the bones.

“We think he died in the 1920s,” Wood said. “But we don’t know if he’s from here.”

Phil Dionne, CEO of ORHC, said Mr. Bones should be preserved, so he was encased last week to protect him from the elements.

Before he was encased, he had hung on a pole in Wood’s office.

“Every time the A/C would kick on his head turned and looked at me,” Wood said with a nervous laugh. “I would flip the lights on every day and say, ‘Good morning, Mr. Bones.’”

Other staff decided to prank Wood after they discovered Mr. Bones in the basement, knowing her penchant for ghost stories.

Wood had been cleaning on the fourth floor of St. Joe’s when workers in the basement buzzed her on her walkie talkie, saying they had something to show her.

“I pushed the elevator button to go down ... and he was in there,” Wood said.

In a video captured by another staff member, Wood can be heard letting out a blood-curdling scream as she laid her eyes on the skeleton.

He will soon be on display in ORHC for a public viewing before he’s shipped to the University of Iowa Medical Museum in early April.

“They were just thrilled to death,” Wood said. “They’ll further preserve him, because he has some dark spots right now from dust, dirt and air conditioning or a lack of air conditioning.”

Hopefully, the university will be able to conduct DNA testing on the skeleton, though that doesn’t seem likely to produce results, she said, since he was likely born in the 1840s.

“It may be a mystery forever,” she said.

If anybody has any information on Mr. Bones’ real identity or how he was used at the former teaching hospital, they can submit information at www.ottumwaregionalhealth.com by going under “Contact Us.”

1
Text Only
CNHI/SE Iowa
  • Former Centerville teacher drowns in Creston

    A long-time Centerville Community School District teacher and coach has been identified as the man dive teams recovered from a southeast Iowa lake on Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Features
AP Video
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Jury Awards Ventura $1.8M in Defamation Case Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Senate Confirms McDonald As VA Secretary Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Fish Oil Plant Blast Kills One Two Huge Fires Burning in Northern California
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results