Police are investigating after the gruesome discovery of a child-size coffin with a child's organs inside.
The casket was found on a sidewalk in Philadelphia on July 4, according to KTLA. Police said it looked like a "fresh" coffin that had been taken from a newly dug grave or a funeral home, and its screws had recently been loosened.
Inside the coffin was a plastic bag filled with the embalmed organs of a baby or small child, but no body has been found.
"I was pretty shocked," witness Chris James said, according to KYW. "It looked like something straight out of ‘Thriller.'"
James had been nearby when others discovered the coffin, which he described as "small casket wrapped in a trash bag," Philly.com reports.
"At first, [police] thought it was a false alarm," said James. When officers looked inside the coffin, they found a plastic bag with dirt and "something organic" inside.
"It did look like organs," James recalled.
"According to the medical examiner, [they] were in fact human organs," said Police Chief Inspector Scott Small. "They believed they belonged to an infant or a child."
"What's unusual is other than the bag of organs there was no body," added Small, according to WCVB. "There was no head, arms, legs or torso. No skeleton. No skin. Just organs."
"There have been cases where people take remains or human bodies for whatever unusual reason they decide, but we’re going to look into that," Small said.
Police checked nearby cemeteries but did not find a grave that showed signs of being dug up. A cadaver dog was also unable to find the body.
Authorities also checked whether any funeral homes were missing caskets or bodies, reports WTXF.
Police have since said the casket was dumped there by a New Jersey funeral home worker, according to The Associated Press.
The funeral home employee reportedly admitted to dumping the coffin, but said he had not known the organs were inside. The funeral for the child had taken place the previous week, but the original coffin had a broken latch, so workers put the body into a new casket.
It's unclear why the organs, which had been removed during the autopsy, were left inside the old casket, which was dumped on the sidewalk.
"The family is quite upset," said Capt. Malachi Jones, who added that the family plans to bury the organs with the rest of child's remains. No charges have been filed in the case.