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Jawless human skull padlocked to a dumbbell fished out of New Orleans waterway

Magnet fisher pulls bazooka round from Charles River
Magnet fisher pulls bazooka round from Charles River 01:14

A human skull padlocked to an exercise dumbbell has been fished out of a New Orleans waterway, leaving police with a mystery on their hands.

The skull was found earlier this month by a man using a red rope and a magnet the size of a hockey puck on a bridge to pull things out of the water below, police said in a report.

The report was recently released and obtained by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. The fisherman also found a handgun and a gun barrel in the water on May 18, police said.

The 15-pound dumbbell was padlocked around the skull, which was "fully decomposed, lacking a jaw or the top row of teeth," according to the report.

The magnet fisherman flagged down a passing police officer after making the find off the Bayou St. John Bridge.

New Orleans police did not have any further updates on the case this week, and the coroner did not say whether he had confirmed the victim's identity, the newspaper reported. A spokesperson told the newspaper identifying the victim could take months.

A police dive team and two cadaver dogs searched the shoreline and the area under the bridge last week, the newspaper reported.

Police have been seeking tips from the public as they investigate the case.

In 2018, kayakers discovered the skull of a missing New Orleans woman in a watery marsh near a boat launch, CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported at the time.

Magnet fishing yields unusual finds

People fishing with magnets have made unexpected — and macabre — discoveries before.

Just last month, someone using a magnet to fish for metal objects in a Georgia creek pulled up a rifle as well as some lost belongings of a couple who were killed in the same area nearly a decade ago.

In March, magnet fishermen pulled an unexploded ordnance from the Charles River in Massachusetts, just a few days after one was found in the same area, CBS Boston reported. The ordnance was given to the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad and they safely detonated the explosive.

In 2022, a man and his 11-year-old grandson reeled in two 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifles out of a murky South Florida canal during a magnet fishing trip, CBS Miami reported, and that same year, a magnet fisherman in New Jersey pulled in a  30-pound explosive device from the Passaic River, CBS New York reported.

In Michigan, magnet fishermen have found everything from guns, motorcycles, pipe bombs, pocket knives and World War II artifacts, CBS Detroit reported. 

In 2020, magnet fishers in England ended up reeling in a dead body from a canal in Torkshire.

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