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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
North Carolina pair feud over leg
A barbecue smoker (file photo)
The leg was stored in a smoker after Mr Wood lost his home
A US man who stored his amputated leg in a barbecue smoker that was later auctioned off is locked in a custody dispute with the man who bought it.

John Wood's smoker was sold to Shannon Whisnant last week after he fell behind on payments at the storage facility in North Carolina where it was kept.

He wants his leg back but Mr Whisnant says he has a receipt for the smoker's contents and wants to share ownership.

Mr Wood's leg was amputated above the knee after a plane crash in 2004.

He asked to keep the leg so he could be buried as a whole man when he died, and stored it at the facility in Maiden after losing his home.

But when Mr Wood failed to pay the necessary rental fees, the storage company auctioned the smoker and all its contents.

'Strange incident'

After buying the smoker last Tuesday, Mr Whisnant looked inside and found a man's leg wrapped in a wire screen.

Halloween's just around the corner - the price will go up if I get the leg
Shannon Whisnant

He initially gave the leg to the police, who concluded it had not been removed as a result of a crime and sent it to a funeral home until Mr Wood could pick it up.

But after making money by charging adults $3 (1.47) and children $1 (49p) to look inside the empty smoker, Mr Whisnant asked for it back.

His request was refused by the funeral home, so he decided to try to persuade Mr Wood to share custody and profits.

"I told him I'd share custody of it..." Mr Whisnant said.

"It's a strange incident and Halloween's just around the corner. The price will go up if I get the leg."

'Despicable'

Mr Wood, who now lives in Greenville, South Carolina, has insisted he is not interested in using the leg to make money and plans to travel to Maiden as soon as possible to reclaim it.

"I just think it's despicable," he said.

"I don't mind having the 15 minutes of fame, but I'm not looking to really profit off this thing.

"He's making a freak show out of it."

Having had his offer rejected, Mr Whisnant has threatened to begin legal action if the leg is not returned to him by next week.

He says he has a receipt showing he bought both the smoker and its contents at the auction.

"Everybody knows it's mine, period," he said. "And if anyone tries to take it, I want everything they got."



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