A decomposed and dismembered human torso was discovered yesterday in a pile of debris in an alley behind the 600 block of T Street NW, D.C. police reported.

Police said the torso was so badly decomposed that it was impossible immediately identify it even sex, race or age, or to determine how long it had been there. The remains were found by children about 3:30 p.m., police said.

An autopsy is set for today.

Police said last night that they are incestigating the possibility the torso may be that of Merlean Hanson, 44, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury member who has been missing since Dec. 4.

A severed left hand, identified by the FBI as that of Hanson, was found Dec. 15 near 8th and R Streets NW, two blocks from where the torso was found yesterday.

Hanson, a federal office building cleaning woman who lived at 5929 East Capitol St., last sat on the grand jury Dec. 1.

Police reiterated yesterday that they have no indication that her disappearance was in no way connected with her role on the grand jury, which had been investigation, among other things, bribery allegations against mayoral aide Joseph P. Yeldell and businessman Dominic Antonelli.

It was uncertain last night whether the remains found yesterday could be identified anytime soon. Police homicide investigators said the D.C. Medical Examiner's office, perhaps with assistance from experts at the Smithsonian Institution, will be conducting a number of tests to try to establish identity.