October 4, 2007 / 6:47 PM / 12 years ago

Cops go out on a limb for amputee

MIAMI (Reuters) - A man whose amputated, embalmed leg was sold at a North Carolina auction will get the limb back over the objections of the buyer, who wanted to include it in a macabre, money-making Halloween display, police said on Thursday.

The dispute over the leg John Wood lost in an airplane crash three years ago was apparently resolved when police decided the buyer, Shannon Whisnant, had given up ownership by calling authorities and asking them to take it away.

“The simple fact is that he said he didn’t want it,” said Capt. Tracy Ledford of the Maiden Police Department, who chuckled his way through an interview about the case that has made for lively gossip in the small North Carolina town.

“The guy don’t have a leg to stand on,” Ledford said. “He’s not getting the leg back.”

Wood, 42, kept the embalmed leg because he wanted it to be cremated with him when he dies. He stored it in a small barbecue smoker in a Maiden storage unit, but failed to keep up the unit’s rent, police said.

The storage company auctioned the smoker on September 25 and Whisnant was the buyer.

When he found the leg, he called police and said he “wanted to get rid of it,” but later decided to make some money from it, Ledford said.

“He wanted to show this thing at Halloween and charge money to see it,” he said.

Whisnant told local media he was willing to go to court to keep the leg and planned to charge admission to see it — $3 for adults and $1 for children.

“It’s a hell of a conversation piece,” he told the Greenville News. “I bought it. It’s mine.”

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