The Deeper Meanings Of A Leg, Lost And Located — And Fought More than

John Wood had to have his leg amputated after a plane crash in 2004, during which his father died. He wanted to preserve the leg as a memorial to his dad.

John Wood had to have his leg amputated following a plane crash in 2004, throughout which his father died. He wanted to preserve the leg as a memorial to his dad. Courtesy of The Orchard hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of The Orchard

Years ago, in the little town of Maiden, N.C., a man named Shannon Whisnant purchased a storage locker, and in it he discovered a grill. When he took both of them house and opened the grill, he discovered one thing he hadn’t been expecting: a mummified human leg.

Most men and women — 1 presumes — would’ve have wanted to get rid of the leg as soon as achievable. Whisnant, nonetheless, wanted to hold it. Trouble is, the original owner of the limb, John Wood, wanted it back. He’d had to have that leg amputated years earlier.

As you may possibly think about, what followed was a bizarre battle, a media frenzy — and, now, a new documentary named Finders Keepers.

Filmmakers Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel tell NPR’s Arun Rath they wanted to dig deep and get the story behind the spectacle.

“Yes there’s this moment of hilarity of two guys fighting more than a leg,” says Tweel, “but then how does the rest of it play out? And exactly where do their lives truly go following the media interest maybe actually dies down? And that’s type of, for us, where factors began to fill out, and we really started to feel like we had a feature film on our hands.”


Shannon Whisnant always craved the limelight. When he found the leg, he thought he'd stumbled upon his big break.

Shannon Whisnant always craved the limelight. When he found the leg, he believed he’d stumbled upon his massive break. Courtesy of The Orchard hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of The Orchard

Interview Highlights

On Shannon Whisnant, the man who found the leg

Tweel: Shannon is a type of self-made man, an entrepreneur of sorts. He bargains in kind of located goods and trying to resell them for a profit and he is usually searching for a way to turn a buck. … I feel what occurred was, he saw that the local media took to the story so speedily, and it gave him this kind of sense of fame and sort of power around getting on camera that he so longed for. He did a really good job, and it started receiving on nationally syndicated radio shows and sooner or later international and national Tv.

On John Wood, the man to whom the leg as soon as belonged

Carberry: John Wood was sort of the wealthy kid of this little town. Everyone knew John he was the cool kid, he was the rebel. He’s had 13 close to-death experiences … electrocuted twice, a couple out of body experiences. … John lost his leg in the very same plane crash where he lost his father’s life. And John was the co-pilot that day, type of took home some guilt from that, even if it wasn’t his fault. And so I think all of that sort of got tied up in his wanting to hold onto this leg.

On how the leg ended up in the grill in the storage locker

Carberry: [John] attempted a couple of things. No. 1 was placing it in the freezer. When his power got reduce off, he even took it to a buddy who worked at a Hardees. They place it in their freezer till the manager located it. His buddy worked at the mortuary so he borrowed some embalming fluid and did it himself at house. He soaked it in the embalming fluid, put it in a possum trap and put the trap in the tree in his front yard to sun dry and right after six months it was mummified. When he got evicted, it went into his grill in his storage unit.

On what inspired the directors to make the film

Tweel: I consider our job was then to continually to dig deeper and get to the heart of what makes these folks tick and they had been unbelievably trusting of us and much more truthful than a lot of men and women are on camera. So that permitted us to go to these locations that we didn’t initially expect.

On what the subjects thought when they saw the documentary

Carberry: Shannon had two notes. A single was that it could have been a little longer, and B., he believed there need to have been a small far more of him in it. …

Tweel: John has observed the film now numerous, many occasions. He genuinely likes it. He says he cries at a distinct portion at nearly each screening. My favorite point I’ve heard as a reaction is Marion, John’s sister — she felt like she’s been watching this story by means of a knothole in a fence, and she feels like we knocked the fence down for her. For us, as documentarians, that’s such a fantastic compliment.

Arts &amp Life : NPR

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