NORTH FORT MYERS, Florida – As a nod to Halloween, Ms Beth Meyer, who owns a rock and crystal store in North Fort Myers, Florida, placed a human skull inside a glass display case there and surrounded it with quartz towers and other crystals.
But Ms Meyer, 62, who meant to use the skull only as a “conversation piece” and did not really want to part with it, put a “really high price on it”: US$4,000 (S$5,400).
Still, the skull drew attention to her store, Elemental Arts, in the Paradise Vintage Market.
On Saturday morning, while Ms Meyer was unpacking vintage clothing and high-end glassware at the store, a deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office came in to question her about the skull.
It is a misdemeanour in Florida to knowingly buy or sell human remains.
“We’re working hard to see if there was a crime committed,” said Mr Carmine Marceno, the county sheriff.
“When a human skull ends up in a store, it’s alarming.” The office will then decide whether to refer the matter to the office of Ms Amira Fox, the Florida state attorney whose jurisdiction includes Lee County.
Ms Samantha Syoen, a spokesperson for Fox, said Tuesday that the office had not received the case.
Ms Meyer said that she knew when she put the skull on display that it was from a human.
But it was an anthropologist, Michelle Calhoun, who saw it in the store and reported it to the sheriff’s office, according to an incident report.
Ms Calhoun told a deputy that she was certain that the skull belonged to someone who was Native American. Efforts to reach her by phone on Monday were unsuccessful.
Mr Marceno said that the skull, which looked to be about 75 years old, lacked signs of trauma or foul play, but the medical examiner’s office was further investigating the matter.
Phone messages and emails Monday to the District 21 Medical Examiner’s Office, which serves Lee County, were not immediately returned.
Ms Meyer, who is also a managing partner of Paradise Vintage Market, said that she acquired the skull in 2022, when she purchased a storage unit that had belonged to an elderly man who was ill.
She said she buys more than 100 such units each year as part of her work and often does not collect any names or contact information from the sellers.