“This was a homicidal act and now this homicidal act has been compounded by the behavior at Penn,” Professor Washington said. “I saw this as a repeat of colonialism, where people’s lives were misappropriated.”
Two anthropologists who analyzed the bones — Alan Mann, now a professor emeritus at Princeton, and Janet Monge, the curator-in-charge of the Penn Museum’s Physical Anthropology Section — were not able to positively identify the victim, according to the museum.
The bones, according to the museum and Princeton, are currently in Dr. Mann’s possession. Dr. Woods said the museum returned the bones to him on Sunday because the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office had originally given them to him for forensic analysis in 1985.
Dr. Mann and Dr. Monge did not respond to messages this week.
Dr. Woods, who became director of the Penn Museum on April 1, said he hopes the bones can be returned to MOVE. “We are working on it now,” he said. “It’s a complex issue. We all want to do the right thing.”
According to the museum, Dr. Mann was originally acting as an “independent forensic anthropologist,” when he received the bones in 1985. At the time, he was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
After the medical examiner failed to make a positive identification, the office gave the bones to Dr. Mann in the hopes that he could eventually link them to a victim, the museum said. In 2001, when Dr. Mann became a professor at Princeton, the bones were moved there, the museum said.
In 2016, a year after Dr. Mann retired from Princeton, the remains returned to the Penn Museum for testing with new technology by Dr. Monge. She was unable to make a positive identification, the museum said.