HONOLULU (AP) — For Gina Rose Vendegna, the horror of finding six tiny fingers in a trash bin at a Honolulu apartment complex didn't sink in until a day after she turned the plastic bag over to Honolulu police.
"Then I broke down thinking about the child," the mother of five told KHON-TV.
The fingers, which Vendegna found last month, are likely from a girl who's 2 1/2 to 4 years old, Honolulu police said.
Residents of the 389-unit Kukui Gardens complex near downtown Honolulu and Chinatown are abuzz about the find, which came to light when police asked the public for help this week, said Kevin Carney, Hawaii vice president for EAH Housing, the San Rafael, Calif.-based company that manages the affordable rentals.
"No one can really imagine this happening in this neighborhood, in their backyard," he said. "Everyone's anxious for more details."
Twenty buildings are on about 10 acres dotted with palm trees and while the complex is in an urban neighborhood, there is little crime, Carney said. "It's a peaceful, quiet community. The crime would shock any community," he said.
There have been no reports of missing children, he said. Police have interviewed area residents and checked missing reports, but have no leads.
Police have made public pleas for clues, but so far no one has called in, CrimeStoppers Sgt. Kim Buffett said Tuesday.
"The hard part is you can't determine the age of it, whether it's new or old," Buffett said. "It can be a child from back then. We really don't know."
Vendegna, who found the fingers, is not a suspect in the case, police said.
She recalled combing through the trash looking for bottles and cans to recycle when she came across what at first she thought was dried ginger root.
Later at her home near the complex, she took the bag out of her purse.
"I was drinking soda, and I knew for a fact those were fingers when I seen the fingernails," she said. "They were preserved in a Ziploc bag."
The woman said there was no foul odor. People she showed them to told her they were monkey fingers. She turned the bag over to police, and laboratory testing confirmed recently that the fingers belong to a child.
"Normally when you find body parts, you find the rest of the body," Buffett said. "It's rare to find fingers. Why just the fingers and why the way it was found?"