"I guarantee it is the first mummy that we had in our police station," Loxton said, "and I'm sure it will probably be the last, too."
Loxton plans to retire in two years and wanted to bring some older cases to a close. He called Wade and said it was time for the mummy to head back to Maryland.
The mummy will join the rest of the collection, in boxes in a chilled basement in a building on West Baltimore Street. There are other child mummies like the one coming from Michigan. One piece is a mummified arm with a black-and-red tattoo depicting the coat of arms of Pope Pius VII, who reigned between 1800 and 1823. Wade said it is the only identifying mark on any of the mummies. Other than that, they lack identifying clues.
The collection was created in the early 1800s by Scottish anatomist Allen Burns. He was considered skilled, though he had no formal training and had been convicted of body-snatching. Before he died in 1813, he gave the collection to his protégé, Granville Patterson, who was later hired at Maryland and sold the collection to the school.
The collection is not used for everyday research by students anymore. The pieces are too delicate, and there are more modern techniques in use these days. But Wade said there still may be some educational value. Perhaps the faces of the mummies can be reconstructed, a technique that has become popular in the world of research.
Wade said he was glad the child mummy would be in a respectable place.
"This was somebody's body," he said. "It was once somebody's child."