Utah man faces criminal charge after police find human skull on his bookshelf

Aug 8, 2023, 3:28 PM

FILE PHOTO (Cedar City Police Department/Facebook)...

FILE PHOTO (Cedar City Police Department/Facebook)

(Cedar City Police Department/Facebook)

CEDAR CITY, Utah — A Cedar City man who police say had a human skull on a bookshelf in his home is now facing a criminal charge because of it.

The 60-year-old man told investigators the skull was gifted to him as a child and came from the catacombs under London.

But a Cedar City police detective questioned the story, and now prosecutors say they don’t believe it either, although, they aren’t sure where the skull — which is estimated to be several hundred years old — came from.

The investigation began in July when police responded to the man’s apartment on an unrelated call for medical assistance. While in the residence, an officer noticed a “realistic human skull” sitting on a shelf of a bookcase, said Iron County deputy attorney Trajan Evans.

A roommate told the officer that the man had named the skull “Alexia” and “that he talks to the skull,” calling it by name, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Detectives then questioned the man at the hospital.

“I then told him that officers had seen something in his apartment that caused us some concern. He responded by asking if I meant his human skull,” the affidavit states. “He stated that he had received it as a gift from another family member when he was a child of about 9 or 10 years old. He stated that he believes it came from the catacombs under the city of London in England. (He) stated that he has no documentation or paperwork to support his statements about where this human skull was originally found before being gifted to him. He also stated that he has had it ever since he was a child and he has kept it on display in the residences where he has lived ever since that time.”

Evans added the man told police a relative who was dating a scientist, at the time, simply gave him the skull. Police and prosecutors, however, are skeptical that actually happened.

A search warrant was obtained and the skull was seized and sent to the Utah State Crime Lab for analysis. While it is believed to be hundreds of years old, Evans said as of Tuesday, police still aren’t sure where it came from. More tests are being conducted at the lab, he said.

Under Utah law, it is illegal to remove or disturb any part of a dead human body without a court order, he said. Because of that, prosecutors charged the man on Tuesday with abuse or desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony. Evans said the charge was determined to be more appropriate than a theft charge.

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Utah man faces criminal charge after police find human skull on his bookshelf