TRAVELER ALERT: Heads in Luggage Must Be Declared

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"Homeland security" air-travel regulations get more ridiculous all the time. First, nail clippers are banned. Now, you can get in trouble just for having a severed head in your luggage. What's next?

Myrlene Severe, a 30-year-old Haitian-born resident alien, learned this when she arrived at Fort Lauderdale with someone's head in a bag. (Tip for travelers: anyone arriving from Haiti with a lumpy bag is probably going to spend some extra time in security.)

There appears to be some disagreement over whether this was a "head" or just a "skull." Obviously it started out as a head with a skull in it, but thanks to "C.S.I." we know that eventually severed heads evolve into mere skulls. This one does not seem to have been particularly fresh, which suggests it was closer to "skull," but according to a customs spokeswoman "it still had teeth, hair and bits of skin and lots of dirt" attached, which argues in favor of "head."

In order to get on with it, this report will hereinafter use the term "skeletal head."

Ms. Severe (which seems like an appropriate name for someone carrying around a skeletal head) told authorities that she had obtained the "package" in Haiti for "use as a part of her voodoo beliefs," specifically "to ward off evil spirits." I don't know much about evil spirits, but I tend to think they would find a skeletal head kind of "neat," as opposed to being warded off by it. But I'm no expert.

Severe was charged with "transporting hazardous material in air commerce," which is a little hard to understand unless they thought she was going to break down the cockpit door with it or throw it at a flight attendant. This seems like a general creepiness charge to me.

The other charge was described both as "smuggling a human head into the U.S. without proper documentation," and "failing to declare the head."  Whichever is the formal charge, if convicted of that and the "hazardous material" charge Severe faces up to 15 years in prison.