Entries in Bones (5)


Human Bones Found in California Backyard Were Bought on eBay

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(PASADENA, Calif.) -- What was supposed to be a response to a call about a trespasser in Pasadena, Calif., took an unusual twist when police found an altar with human bones in a backyard, and now they are investigating how they were sold on eBay.

Pasadena police responded to the 800 block of North Oakland Avenue on Sunday after a woman living in the home reported an individual trespassing on her property.

“The officers went there on a whole different call.  When they checked the area there was a makeshift altar that included some bones,” Lt. Terysa Rojas with the Pasadena Police Department Crimes Against Person’s division told ABC News.  “The coroner determined them to be human bones.”

According to Rojas, the woman cooperated with police and was interviewed while the bones were turned over to the coroner’s office.

Investigators say the altar serves a religious purpose for the woman living in the home, more specifically a West African and Caribbean religion known as Santeria.  However, throughout the investigation over the past couple of days, police learned the woman ordered the bones on eBay.

“There are some sites where you can order human bones or skulls through eBay,” Rojas said.  “I don’t know where they get them or how they get to put them on eBay.  That’s part of our investigation.”

Police say there were not only human bones, but also those of animal heads along with burned incense and candles.  While the investigation is still preliminary, Rojas said there is nothing the woman can be charged with due to the religious purpose.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mammoth Bones Discovered in Iowa Family's Backyard

WOI/ABC News(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- An excavation is underway thanks to bones of a prehistoric mammoth discovered in a Oskaloosa, Iowa family’s backyard.

According to ABC’s affiliate ABC5-WOI in Des Moines, the bones were discovered in July 2010 by John and his two teenage sons when they were walking in the woods of their property looking for blackberries.

One of John's sons pointed out what he thought was a ball in the creek below to his family. Once they got closer, John, who has an interest in archeology, noticed a marrow line at the top of the object, said reporter ABC5-WOI reporter Katie Eastman, who interviewed the family. Realizing this was no ball, the family dug out what has now been identified as a mammoth femur.

Despite discovering the bones nearly two years ago, the bones were brought to the University of Iowa for identification only last month, sparking the interest of Holmes Semken, professor emeritus of Geoscience. Semken enlisted the help of volunteers from the University of Iowa as well as Iowa State University, to help to uncover the fossils lying six feet below the surface.

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History is overseeing the project’s excavation and research.

“The size of this discovery is quite uncommon,” said Sarah Horgen, education coordinator at the museum. “It’s pretty exciting–partially because the mammoth is being discovered where it died. And we know that because we’re finding very large bones right alongside very small bones.”

Horgen says the mammoth is at least 12,000 years old, and was extinct by the end of the last ice age. Horgen also noted that the mammoth’s discovery is not uncommon in Iowa, and that the museum has a working record of reported fossil discoveries around the state.

“The bones discovered could be 100,000 years old or more,” she said.

Two digs have been held so far. In addition to the bones found by the landowner, volunteers have since uncovered the mammoth’s feet bones, as well as its floating and thoracic ribs.

Semken is interested in finding how the animal died, but more importantly, how it lived. He plans on studying the pollen samples and seeds lodged within the bones, as well as the compound make up to understand the environment the mammoth lived in, what it fed on, where it fed in terms of grassland as opposed to forest.

Semken says the digs should progress through the summer. He plans to enlist the help of volunteers from William Penn College in Oskaloosa, the local county conservation board, as well as rock clubs around the state to partake in the digs.

The landowner could not be reached for comment.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


300 Human Bones Found in Serial Killers' Lair

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LINDEN, Calif.) -- More than 300 human bones have been found in a Linden, Calif., mine where "Speed Freak" serial killers Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog buried victims of their alleged drug-fueled killing spree.

Shermantine, who is on death row, provided a hand-drawn map to San Joaquin sheriff's officers to help them locate the burial ground for as many as 10 or more victims from the spree, which occurred during the 1980s and 1990s.

Herzog, when he was told about Shermantine's cooperation with investigators, killed himself last month.

Monday marked the fourth day of searching and sifting through dirt from the mine, which police excavated in batches and then combed through for evidence. In addition to bones, investigators have found clothing, shoes, jewelry, and other personal effects.

The sheriff's department said it's too early to tell how many different bodies they've found. They say the next step is sending all the tagged items to the Department of Justice for DNA analysis. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Skull Belongs to Mysteriously Missing Woman

File photo. (Siri Stafford/Digital Vision)(CLARK COUNTY, Ohio) -- A skull found by hunters in Ohio has been positively identified as a woman who mysteriously disappeared more than a year ago.

Faith Willison, 56, of Clark County, disappeared in June 28, 2010, after her car was seen traveling off a four-lane highway and crashing to a halt on the side of the road. A delivery truck driver saw the accident, turned around and came back to the scene, to call 911. But when the truck driver arrived back at the scene of the crash, there no was no driver or passenger in sight, according to Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly.

No blood was found inside the vehicle and the air bags were not deployed, Kelly said. Ohio highway patrol officers found a pair of flip flops in front of the vehicle, he said.

Police determined that Willison had left a note the day before telling her husband she had decided to return to a mental health facility to seek further treatment. She had prescription medications with her for her mental health problems, Kelly said.

In January 2011, hunters found a purse in a field close to the accident and contacted authorities when they recognized the name on the license inside, he said. All of Willison's identification cards and licenses were in the purse, in addition to prescription medication.

The skull, found Saturday, was positively identified by an Ohio dentist, and has been sent to a medical examiner for toxicology screening. There was no blunt trauma or bullet wounds detected on the skull, he said. The investigation is still open. No cause of death has been determined and they have not ruled it a suicide. They do not know whether Kelly got lost or disoriented following the accident, he said.

Kelly said police are still baffled by how the woman disappeared immediately following the crash.

"It was only 60, 90 seconds for the driver to turn around and come back," he said. "Was she hiding in the grass? We don't know."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Found in Bank Chimney 27 Years Later

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ABBEVILLE, La.) -- The remains of Joseph Schexnider, missing for 27 years, were finally discovered lodged in a brick chimney at the Abbeville National Bank in Louisiana.

The bones were found in May when the bank was renovating the second floor, which had long been used for storage, to make more office space.

The identity of the body was confirmed this week through DNA.

"This was absolutely the first chimney recovery we had ever had," said Mary Manhein, head of FACES, the lab at Louisiana State University that identified Schexnider's bones.

There weren't any dental records available so the lab relied on DNA evidence after police obtained a reference sample from Schexnider's family, who live in the area.

"I would submit he died within a few days maximum of when he went into that chimney," said Manhein.

But as to how he died, or why he was in the chimney to begin with, Manhein says, "Nobody will ever know."

Police discovered a pair of gloves among the remains but can only speculate as to the significance. They don't suspect foul play, Manhein said. The bones showed no signs of trauma.

The chimney at Abbeville National Bank opens on the second floor, a space the bank had been using for storage.

In May, the bank was in the process of renovating that floor to create additional offices. A contractor installing plywood first found the bones in the chimney while removing a metal shield covering the face of the fireplace. It was then that he discovered small bones and clothing at the base of the fireplace. The majority of the body appeared to have gotten stuck just above the fireplace in the narrow flue.

The bank called the district attorney's office, and they notified police.

Schexnider, who was 26 when he disappeared, had served in the National Guard and also worked in the circus for several months until the circus left the country.

When he disappeared in January 1984, the family reportedly thought he might be running from the law because he had failed to appear in court for possession of a stolen vehicle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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