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Detectives try to solve mystery of body parts found near desert school

September 9, 2009 |  5:32 pm

Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating the discovery of human remains, including a severed hand and a torso, found in the vicinity of a Lake Los Angeles middle school.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives and the county coroner’s special recovery team initially went to the 41700 block of 170th Street East, near Challenger Middle School, east of Palmdale, about 8 p.m. Tuesday after a resident who was riding a  horse saw the hand and called authorities.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said it was not immediately clear if the hand belonged to a man or woman or how it turned up where it was found or even if it was the result of foul play. Cadaver dogs were brought in and made no additional discoveries.

But at 3 p.m. Wednesday sheriff’s officials were called back to the area after they were notified about additional human remains found near the original scene, what Whitmore described as "an apparent male torso."

In the meantime, detectives were combing through missing-persons reports in an effort to identify any possible victims. The coroner’s office was also working to identify the hand and the other remains.

"It’s puzzling," Whitmore said.

The area surrounding the school is largely desert scrub, and Whitmore said it was possible an animal carried the hand to the place it was found.