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
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fundraiser for soldiers' families approaching

    CENTERVILLE — Justin Zaputil remembers when Master Sgt. Travis Riddick died. The common reactions didn’t feel right. Mourning and then moving on left something undone. It didn’t seem to accomplish what Zaputil and a handful of others wanted. It didn’

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

Features
AP Video
Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Weather Gives Washington Firefighters Hope Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message $5M Bond Set for Teens in Homeless Killings New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Obama Calls for Immediate Access to Crash Site Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Native American Teens Get Taste of College
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