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Originally published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:43 AM

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Explanation found for 18 severed heads detained by customs

Shipment detained at O’Hare Airport used for medical research overseas.

The Associated Press

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CHICAGO — A shipment of 18 human heads held up by customs officials at O’Hare International Airport was bound for a cremation service in the Chicago area after the heads were used in medical research abroad.

A spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, Mary Paleologos, said Tuesday that the heads were originally sent from Illinois to Italy for medical research and were returned to the area for disposal as part of the agreement.

She says a paperwork problem held up the shipment, which arrived at O’Hare in mid-December.

The containers were being stored at the Cook County morgue while authorities investigated the matter.

Paleologos says the heads will be turned over for cremation.

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