Norman Eule was all set Wednesday to have the electricity shut off in the old Doctors Hospital building on I Street NW before it was torn down.
Then he discovered the problem.
The contents of the building had been auctioned off Dec. 4, but not a large, built-in refrigerator. And inside the refrigerator was a human leg.
Eule, the attorney for the trustee of the bankrupt hospital, said officials of the Oliver T. Carr Co. had known about the leg for several weeks, after discovering it when reviewing the hospital's records.
The leg apparently had been separated from its owner in the hospital, and sent to the pathology department. The operation, Eule said, probably took place shortly before the hospital was closed in September, and the leg has been forgotten.
But no one could say exactly how long it had been in the refrigerator and nobody knew whose it was.
"When the hospital was in operation," Eule said, "I don't know what procedure they employed to dispose of human tissue . . . But you can't just flush it down the toilet or throw it out the window." D.C. law requires that large tissue samples -- such as a leg -- be buried or cremated.
Eule began researching the problem and discovered that the only way he could dispose of the limb -- described as female and shin-high -- was to turn it over to a funeral home. Vann and Williams Mortuary Service agreed to dispose of the leg for $30.
Willie Vann, of Vann and Williams, said the leg was cremated in a "very decent, Christian manner."