Police are looking into an "inappropriate incident" with a female cadaver inside a lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage, university officials and campus police said.
In an email Thursday to roughly 18,000 UAA students, staff and faculty, university administrators said a criminal investigation is under way to find the person or persons responsible for the incident late Monday or early Tuesday in the Gross Anatomy Lab on the second floor of the Health Sciences Building. Officers are also investigating an act of vandalism -- male genitalia etched on a couch -- discovered Wednesday on the building's third floor.
As to what exactly happened with the cadaver, university officials are mum. Police would not describe the incident publicly. University administration declined to comment on why they identified the cadaver as female.
UAA Police Chief Rick Shell refused to say if the incident was sexual in nature.
"As far as what the inappropriateness was, it's kind of an integral part of the investigation, and I don't feel comfortable explaining it right now, until we get more information," Shell said.
Only the person or persons responsible might know certain details officers have learned, Shell said. Releasing that information could hurt the investigation, he said.
Someone discovered something amiss with the cadaver Tuesday and reported it to police, Shell said. On Wednesday, someone discovered the vandalism to the couch in an unsecured lobby one floor up from the lab, the police chief said. It's unclear so far if the two incidents are connected.
The lab is open during daytime hours, Shell said. In the late afternoon, the lab's doors are locked and can only be opened with a university issued key or key card, he said. Officers assigned to the case are reviewing the key card records and video from surveillance cameras, among other evidence, Shell said.
University administration said in their mass-email that UAA's value for respect and its commitment to safety as its highest priority compelled them to notifying campus users, who should be more vigilant and take precautions. Increased security measures, including adding officers to patrols in the area of the lab, are in place, university spokeswoman Jessica Hamlin said.
"It's definitely strange. And that's part of the reason we sent the announcement out to our community," Hamlin said.
Campus police ask that anyone with information on the incident call them at 786-1120.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE