Tiferet Israel's Rabbi Can't Understand Why 18-Year-Old Wanted Foot From "A Jew Girl"

By now you've no doubt heard: In the wee small hours of this morning, 18-year-old Daniel Stanley went to the Tiferet Israel cemetery at Buckner and Scyene, dug up a corpse and used a hatchet to chop off a foot. According to the Dallas police press release, it was Stanley who turned himself in:

An 18 year old W/M suspect walked up to Dallas Police Officers at 2101 S. Buckner Boulevard and told them that he had a human foot in his bag. The suspect then got the foot out of the bag and showed it to the officers. The suspect told the officers that he had dug us a nearby grave and took the foot from a "Jew girl," because he wanted the foot. The suspect then took the officers to the location where he had dug up the grave.
Stanley took the officers to the grave; officers then took Stanley to Lew Sterrett, where he was charged with theft from a human corpse/grave; and the foot was transported to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's office. (Police, incidentally, say his name is "Stanley," after first referring to him as "Staley"; KDFW-Channel 4 found his MySpace page, where it's "Staley.") It remains unclear to whom the foot belonged: a woman buried six years ago, or a woman who died in 1941. (Update: The foot belonged to Polya Gertsenshteyn, born in Marcy 1916 and buried in April 2004.)

The story has given headline writers a fit of the giggles: "One foot out of the grave," reads one Australian newspaper; closer to home, The Beaumont Enterprise says, "Footloose? Today is just the perfect day to steal a body part."

"But that's what the media does, right?" asks Tiferet's rabbi, Shawn Zell. "Captions are the attention-grabbers." But Zell's not offended. He even says there's confusion about to whom the foot belonged because there are two graves next to each other that were tampered with -- "and they are, if you'll excuse the pun, toe-to-toe." Rabbi Zell found out about the desecration this morning, when he received a call from DPD.

"I scratch my head," he tells Unfair Park. "I don't understand the whole thing. I don't understand why someone is so interested in the body part of a person. I thought it was fiction."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky