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    Default Florida Firefighter Charged With Stealing Severed Foot

    Would this fall under "Good plan. Poor Execution." or just plane stupid? I would like to know if the foot belonged to a D.O.A causality. Anyone know?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009


    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. Authorities said the St. Lucie County firefighter who took a man's severed foot from an Interstate 95 crash scene last year has been charged with misdemeanor theft.

    The firefighter told the Florida Highway Patrol after the Sept. 19 crash that she took the remains to help train her cadaver dog. She eventually resigned from the St. Lucie County Fire District. She was arrested Monday.

    FHP Lt. Tim Frith said the severity of a theft charge is usually determined by the value of what is stolen. Since there's no law specifically dealing with the theft of a body part, he said it was difficult to determine the monetary value of the foot.

    The firefighter was released from jail on her own recognizance Monday afternoon.
    DixieFire53, Deputy Fire Chief FF/EMT-P, Local 272

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    The injured patient was taken to the hospital and survived. The firefighter in question works with cadaver dogs and was planning on using the foot for training said dogs. I hope this lady gets a long time in prison and is never in a position to do this again.
    -Rob
    Greater love has no man than to lay his life down for a friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpferry View Post
    The injured patient was taken to the hospital and survived. The firefighter in question works with cadaver dogs and was planning on using the foot for training said dogs. I hope this lady gets a long time in prison and is never in a position to do this again.
    -Rob
    I understand your point, but with a misdemeanor theft, she is not going to jail at all.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    something doesn't add up here. I find it hard to believe that a legitimate cadaver dog trainer would have to steal a foot in order to get human tissue for training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    something doesn't add up here. I find it hard to believe that a legitimate cadaver dog trainer would have to steal a foot in order to get human tissue for training.
    She didn't.

    The units I am familiar with use a tiny piece of tissue that is taken with the consent of survivors by the ME. I believe they actually make some sort of solution out of it. A little bit goes a long way.

    My guess is that she had no idea what she was doing. Within a very short time, the stench that that body part would give off would have rendered it virtually useless. Also, the cadaver dogs I have worked with are amazing animals. I saw one hit on a body buried 4 feet down, wrappedi n a plastic bag and a carpet for seven years. I saw another hit on a body submerged in about 2' of water from across the lake. They can detect very small quantities. That foot would have been nothing mroe than a toy for the dog. And that is why she got locked up.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I guess people dont think much these days.

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    FHP Lt. Tim Frith said the severity of a theft charge is usually determined by the value of what is stolen. Since there's no law specifically dealing with the theft of a body part, he said it was difficult to determine the monetary value of the foot.
    Quote Originally Posted by rpferry View Post
    The injured patient was taken to the hospital and survived.
    Doesn't the fact that the patient survived make the offense worse? She wasn't just stealing a severed piece of a body. She was removing from the scene a body part that the survivor probably would want back, especially if there were a chance of reattaching it.
    So you call this your free country
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefuss View Post
    maybe she has a foot fetish?....


    ugh
    Not to make light of the situation but that was damn funny. I'm also not sure as to the legality of the theft but I do think that the trauma docs said that they could have reattached the foot had it been in their possession. It may have a bearing on the charges but again, I'm not a lawyer. It's an interesting case none the less.
    Greater love has no man than to lay his life down for a friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpferry View Post
    Not to make light of the situation but that was damn funny. I'm also not sure as to the legality of the theft but I do think that the trauma docs said that they could have reattached the foot had it been in their possession. It may have a bearing on the charges but again, I'm not a lawyer. It's an interesting case none the less.
    I don't know Florida law, but it seems to me that if there had been a more serious charge, they would have lodged it.

    But I am CERTAIN that this will make for an interesting civil case.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I take this as a foot fetish gone wrong.. Cannibalism anyone?

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    Oh the jokes I could make.....


    Seriously, Like George said, I'm sure if they could charge her with more they would have.

    A good friend of mine from years ago trains dogs for this. They usually get a small piece of skin and tissue from a body that has been donated to science. There is actually a market for this type of stuff. Someone harvests these pieces of tissue, freeze them, and ship them all over the world. Yes, a little goes a long way. The end user, the trainer, disolves the tissue in a solution and they put drops of this solution out for the dog to find.

    It was also explained to me that a dogs sense of smell is 3000 times as sensative than the human nose. It is also very specific in scents. For example we smell "pizza." The dog smells the crust, sauce, cheese, meat, veggies, etc. all seperately.
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    Just trying to figure something out here.......how could the foot have been removed without anybody seeing it happen? I'm not being a smart@$$, but it just doesn't make sense that such a thing would be possible with as many people being around as would happen at an accident site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecat1 View Post
    Just trying to figure something out here.......how could the foot have been removed without anybody seeing it happen? I'm not being a smart@$$, but it just doesn't make sense that such a thing would be possible with as many people being around as would happen at an accident site.
    This is completely irrelevant.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    This is completely irrelevant.
    George, I asked the question to educate myself about accident scenes so, unless you have a constuctive comment to make, kindly keep silent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecat1 View Post
    George, I asked the question to educate myself about accident scenes so, unless you have a constuctive comment to make, kindly keep silent.
    The adults here are having a constructive conversation about a K9 handler committing a crime, the punishment for that crime and the ramifications of possible civil litigation. Scene security would be in a different thread altogether.

    Whether or not anyone saw her do it, she committed a crime. Apparently, someone must've seen her since she was charged with the crime.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecat1 View Post
    Just trying to figure something out here.......how could the foot have been removed without anybody seeing it happen? I'm not being a smart@$$, but it just doesn't make sense that such a thing would be possible with as many people being around as would happen at an accident site.
    Wrap it up in the trash that you're going to "throw away", put it in one of your personal bags, hide it and come back later, wait until everyone's busy with something else and you're cleaning up debris alone, put it in your bunker gear pocket...

    Where there's a will, there's a way. You can have a lot of people busy with any variety of tasks (extrication, removal, clean-up, traffic control, etc.) and not watching at any given point during the incident. Some may have seen it and just looked the other way, no telling. It's definitely possible if you want to bad enough.

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    BTW. Somebody did see her take it.

    Firefighter who took leg resigns, says she was 'trying to do good'
    By ANA CERON

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    He told her his name was Karl. He was going to pass out. Then he asked for her name.

    It was Cindy Economou. On the morning of Sept. 19, Karl Lambert had crashed on Interstate 95 by the Tradition exit in Port St. Lucie. His truck smashed into a tree, and he was pinned inside.

    Economou, one of the St. Lucie County firefighters who responded to the crash, was watching over him.

    The crash had severed his left lower leg. Lambert was in pain and told her he was going to die.

    This is what Economou, 38, recalled five days later during a taped interview with St. Lucie County Fire District investigators after allegations surfaced that she had taken Lambert's severed leg to use to train her cadaver dog.

    She didn't deny the accusations.

    "Nothing was meant maliciously," she told investigators. "I was just trying to do good, trying to do well."

    Economou - who was named St. Lucie County Firefighter of the Year in 2007 - was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 25, when the district announced it was investigating the allegations. She resigned Wednesday, a day after district officials told her that her conduct had been unethical and may be deemed no longer suitable for employment as a firefighter paramedic.

    Lambert, 46, survived the crash, but he didn't find out until five days later that his leg had been trapped in the truck and Economou took it.

    Economou told investigators she had been training cadaver dogs for 15 years, and that procuring human tissue to train the canines had always been difficult.

    Economou hoped the limb would provide a service by training a dog that could one day find someone's deceased loved one, and possibly give some closure to a family after a tragedy.

    "That's a lifetime worth of training aids," Economou said of the severed limb.

    A former local medical examiner would give her tissue, but after he retired, his replacement refused. He never gave a reason, she said.

    After years of trying, she once got a doctor at the University of Florida to provide her a cross section of a leg from a non-preserved body.

    So when she saw Lambert's mangled leg - released from the truck after the Melbourne man had been flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach - Economou believed this was an opportunity to do some good.

    After all, she told investigators, the leg seemed unsalvageable. And Deputy Chief Mike Bailey had ultimately told her he didn't want to know what she would do with the leg after she asked and he initially told her not to take it.

    Bailey denied this, telling investigators he only told Economou not to remove it.

    Other firefighters - including a captain - at the scene said that Economou told them Bailey had given her permission to take the leg. When a trooper asked her if the limb had been recovered, Economou said she told her, "Yes, it's been taken care of." She then took it back to the station.

    Capt. Michael Rizzello knew she had the leg but never checked to see whether she had permission, according to the district's investigation. It went on to say that back at Fire Station 10, he told Economou that he didn't want to know anything more about the limb and to remove it from the station.

    By the time Economou arrived at the station, she had wrapped up the limb in a towel, placed it in a biohazard waste bag and sealed it in a bucket. Then her father, John, came to pick up the leg and place it in a freezer at their Port St. Lucie home where she keeps human tissue she uses to train her dog.

    The limb remained in her freezer until Sept. 24, when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper came to retrieve it and transport it to St. Mary's. The fire district launched its investigation the same day.

    Economou didn't know whether it was illegal for her to store the human tissue, or that the district has guidelines against a firefighter taking a body part from a crash site. If there had been a policy, she said she felt someone would have told her not to take the leg.

    District officials told Economou they had several concerns about her actions. They worried about her own personal criminal liability, that they could face a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and also the bad publicity.

    "To have a newspaper come out and say, 'Firefighter of the year arrested for stealing someone's severed foot' is not going to be pleasant for either you or us," district attorney Ken Crooks said during the interview.

    District officials said no one else involved in the incident is under disciplinary action, and that they will review their policies to see where to make any changes to avoid a similar case.

    Meanwhile, Florida Highway Patrol is continuing its investigation into the matter, spokesman Lt. Tim Frith said.

    Steve Ziskinder, Economou's attorney, declined to comment.

    Economou has defended her actions, even when other firefighters said they felt it was gross of her to have taken the foot.

    "I tried to explain it to them, it's not gross," she said. "It's not Hannibal Lecter; it's not Jeffrey Dahmer. It's a nasty job, but somebody has to do it."

    Find this article at:
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localne...1002slleg.html
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    BTW. Somebody did see her take it.
    It appears the department as a whole is going to be looking at a potential lawsuit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    It appears the department as a whole is going to be looking at a potential lawsuit.
    Is it just me, or are there a couple of other folks who should be in the disciplinary action jackpot?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    Is it just me, or are there a couple of other folks who should be in the disciplinary action jackpot?
    It's not just you. Personnally, I think each and every one that knew about it ought to be brought up on more than a misdemeanor. But, since the state apparently doesn't afford that, they should at least be held accountable by whatever means the department has necessary.

    Not very often do I support lawsuits, but I wouldn't complain one bit of Mr. Lambert filed multiple suits in this case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    It's not just you. Personnally, I think each and every one that knew about it ought to be brought up on more than a misdemeanor. But, since the state apparently doesn't afford that, they should at least be held accountable by whatever means the department has necessary.

    Not very often do I support lawsuits, but I wouldn't complain one bit of Mr. Lambert filed multiple suits in this case.
    A criminal charge is kind of iffy. I was thinking more along the lines of departmental discipline. Every one of those guys who knew about it and said nothing helped to place their FD in a negative light.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Understatement of the year:
    "To have a newspaper come out and say, 'Firefighter of the year arrested for stealing someone's severed foot' is not going to be pleasant for either you or us," district attorney Ken Crooks said during the interview.
    So you call this your free country
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    Oh boy, lots of people in hot water here.

    As a trainer with human flesh, you have to be registered with Homeland Security, ATF, and the state you are in as a "retainer of human remains." I don't think she went about getting training materials the proper way.
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    That is a very sick story. I am also not a lawsuit happy person. But I wouldnt be upset if this man sued either. If she trained cadaver dogs for 15 years she knew the rules on getting tissue samples. What she did was sick and twisted. I would venture to guess more charges will come. Once the district attorney reveiws what laws she could be charged with breaking other than theft( if any). This is one of those cases in my mind that will cause the creation of laws to bring tougher penalties than what she may be facing now. It may not stick under gross abuse of a corpse because the gentleman lived. Any other ideas?

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