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Limb Found at Car Wash a Severed Bear Paw

November 16, 2004 GMT

FORT GAY, W.Va. (AP) _ One concerned citizen, several law enforcement officers and two county medical examiners thought a partially decomposed limb discovered at a car wash was a human hand. They were all wrong. It was a bear’s paw.

``It fooled all of us,″ Sgt. R.W. Lively of the State Police detachment in Wayne said Tuesday.

The paw was discovered at about 9 p.m. Monday at a car wash by a man who had stopped to wash his vehicle.

``He saw a manilla envelope in the bay of the car wash, opened it up and found the appendage,″ Lively said.

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The paw was wrapped in a paper towel and newspaper and was secured with a rubber band.

Lively said he did not know why someone would take the time to wrap the paw or whether it was a prank.

``If it is, it’s a pretty sick hoax because it cost a lot of people a lot of time and effort,″ he said.

Officers from the State Police, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Fort Gay Police Department assisted in the investigation.

The paw was partially decomposed and had no fur or claws. And, just like a human hand, it had five digits.

``Everybody thought it was a human hand,″ Lively said. ``So that’s the way we treated it until we found out otherwise.″

The state medical examiner’s office determined Tuesday that the limb was a bear’s paw. State Police have closed the case ``unless we receive information that it was an intentional hoax to mislead law enforcement,″ Lively said.