September 18, 2014 / 8:53 PM / 3 years ago

Chicago officials investigate human bones sent to Japanese consulate

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago authorities are trying to solve a mystery over a box of human bones that were sent to the Japanese consulate, along with a letter saying they were the remains of soldiers who died during World War Two, police said on Thursday.

The box of bones, which included two human skulls, was sent to the Chicago consulate in mid-June from Rochester, Minnesota, said Chicago Police Officer Thomas Sweeney.

Along with the package was a letter saying the bones belonged to two soldiers who died in the Pacific theater of the war, and requesting that they be returned to Japan, Sweeney said.

Consulate officials reported the box to the Japanese government in Tokyo, according to consul Shinichiro Nakamura. Nakamura described what police called a letter as an "application form."

Police said that photos of the bones were reviewed by a Japanese pathologist, who indicated that they may not be of Japanese descent.

Not knowing what the bones were, the consulate consulted with Chicago police this week, Nakamura said. The remains were sent to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, and have been sent out for an anthropological study.

"We want to find out what kind of bones they are, what age they are," said Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for the Medical Examiner.

Nakamura said the office receives World War Two mementos two or three times a month - generally a flag or some other item that belonged to a recently deceased veteran, and whose child or grandchild now wants it returned to Japan.

Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Sandra Maler

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