Rotting human heads of serial killer’s victims brought back to UK in luggage

A forensic expert has described how she flew two decaying human heads riddled with "maggot activity" back to the UK in her hand baggage as part of an investigation into a serial killer.

Dame Professor Sue Black needed to get the heads, thought to belong to victims of Italian murderer Gianfranco Stevanin, back to her base in Scotland for analysis.

She said: "It meant that what I had to do because they didn't have the capability in Italy, was to take the skulls over to the UK.

"But they weren't skulls, that's the whole point.

"They were fleshed, they had quite a lot of maggot activity, so they were very wet and very smelly in the process."

She continued: "So what they decided to do was to put each of the heads into white buckets that you could seal and so that we didn't disturb anyone at airports, I would carry them in two very expensive designer carrier bags so that it didn't look obvious.

"I carried two letters, one in Italian, one in English that said what I was carrying," reports the Daily Record.

Speaking on the BBC's Big Scottish Book Club, she added: "I got onto the plane and the air hostess said, 'you need to put your bags in the hold'.

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"I gave her the English letter and she was utterly horrified but moved me into business class, which I thought was very nice.

Black landed safely at Heathrow before she passed through her remaining security checks to board a flight to Glasgow.

She added: "I then get onto the flight from Heathrow up to Glasgow, have the same problem with the air steward, and he this time put me to the back of the plane and moved everybody else up to business class.

"I got the entire way from Verona to Glasgow without anybody ever looking inside those buckets."

Gianfranco Stevanin, known as the "Monster of Terrazzo", was convicted of murdering six women between 1993 and 1994.

Inverness-born forensic anthropologist Black has worked on notorious cases including helping identify more victims of serial killer Dennis Nilsen.

Black reveals more details on her work in her latest book, Written in Bone.

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