Man takes steps to get foot back from police
Ezekiel Rubottom now has his left foot back exactly where he wants it -- in a bucket on the front porch. Police returned the amputated foot to him earlier this week after seizing it during the weekend to check out just how it came to be there.
The 21-year-old Lawrence man's foot was amputated three weeks ago after a series of medical problems, and he put it in a five-gallon bucket filled with formaldehyde. The bizarre item became a drawing card that brought the curious to the house where the homeless Rubottom has been staying with a friend.
It came to the attention of police after a call from a parent whose child reported seeing the severed foot. Officers who went to the home late Saturday night found the foot, and some of Rubottom's friends, but no sign of Rubottom himself.
Unsure of what to make of the unusual discovery, police confiscated the severed foot and put it into evidence storage.
"We had to make sure that no crime had been committed," Sgt. Dan Ward said.
Rubottom, an artist, recovering methamphetamine addict and occasional hip-hop emcee, said he was born with a clubfoot and has dealt all his life with pressure sores and infections. An infection this summer became so severe that doctors at Lawrence Memorial Hospital decided the foot should be amputated.
Rubottom asked to keep the severed foot. A pathologist at the hospital checked to make sure it wouldn't be a hazard and told him he could have it, provided he kept it in a container labeled with instructions for handling the formaldehyde.
Karen Shumate, a vice president at the hospital, said people can keep parts removed from their bodies if they want them.
"They've had women that want their uterus," she said. "People take tonsils. They take appendixes. I think it's unusual that someone would want a foot, but it's within their rights because it's theirs."
After a friend picked up the bucket at a hardware store, Rubottom added several objects as well as the severed foot -- including a porcelain horse and can of Hamm's beer -- to make what he called "a collage of myself." He also cut off two of the toes, saying he was considering giving them to friends.
On Monday, police returned the foot to Rubottom after taking him to the hospital, where he signed a release allowing them to see his medical records.
"It's cool. It's all good," said Rubottom. "Now I've got my foot back. That's all I wanted.
"I'm not sick or, like, a danger," he said of his decision to keep and display the foot. "I just wanted my foot.... I just figured I'd do with it whatever I pleased."