A group of Minnesota friends riding in a rented RV en route to Kentucky Derby for a bachelor party weekend made a gruesome discovery when they pulled over to investigate a foul odor.
Anoka County Sheriff's officials say the RV pulled off the freeway in Winona Thursday and found a man's body lodged in a compartment of the RV that was accessible only from the outside.
Officers with the Winona Police Department responded just after 10pm to the Shopko department store in Winona after receiving a call about a human corpse, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
According to the investigation, the decomposing body was hidden in an exterior cargo bin. It has been taken to the Mayo Clinic for an autopsy and formal identification.
John Kirk, who was one of the 11 men traveling to the 140th running of annual triple crown race, told the newspaper that he and a few of his friends were instructed by the RV’s owner, "Rob," not to open the outside compartment because it did not work.
But when the RV rolled into Winona to collect the last of the guests outside Shopko, they opened the bin, releasing a blast of the foul odor into the air.
"I opened it up and I saw two legs and they're bruised or decomposing," the groom-to-be Dan Trainor IV told the station KTSP.
Jake Wanek, of Minneapolis said he too saw the deceased man from the knees down, and that he "didn’t look fresh."
"We went on the trip with 11 and found a 12th when we got to Winona," Wanek said.
Police who arrived on the scene seized the rented RV as evidence along with the men’s personal belongings.
In a situation that must have felt like a scene from "The Hangover" or "Very Bad Things," the friends were questioned by police station for two hours before they were finally let go.
The disturbing ordeal has somewhat derailed the buddies’ plans and — instead of continuing on to Louisville — Wanek said they would stay in Winona and catch the Minnesota Wild playoff hockey game before rolling on to Canterbury and watching the race from there Saturday.
"The last 24 hours takes the cake but this has been the most eventful, exciting, depressing, unbelievable, epic terrible week of my life," Wanek said on Twitter.
The last 24 hours takes the cake but this has been the most eventful, exciting, depressing, unbelievable, epic, terrible week of my life.
— Jake Wanek (@jakewanek) May 2, 2014
And the story has taken on a Twitter life of its own. The hashtag #CorpseInTheCargoBay chronicles everything that’s happened so far.
UPDATE: Body identified.