Man charged with 1796 murder after taking bone from catacombs

PARIS – An American man who says he took a bone from the Paris catacombs has been arrested for an unsolved 1796 murder, local news outlets are reporting.

Samuel Ashton of Norfolk, Missouri, is now in French custody awaiting trial for a 1796 murder which has remained unsolved for centuries after he was found with the bone at the airport.

“This accusation is categorically false,” Ashton’s lawyer said. “Samuel acquired the bone second-hand; moreover, he was not alive in 1796 when this murder occurred.”

Pascal Bertrand of Paris was stabbed to death along the Seine in 1796 in an especially gruesome murder that shocked locals and was not solved by police despite an investigation which lasted for years. DNA tests confirmed the bone in Ashton’s possession matched that of Bertrand.

Thousands of tourists enter the catacombs every year to see the bones of millions who have been stored in the Paris underground. Ashton has claimed that he was simply a tourist who wanted to take a souvenir home, but French police claim the possession of the bone is just the tip of the iceberg in their case against Ashton.

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