Entries in skeleton (6)


Long-Missing Iowa Man’s Skeleton Found During Home Renovation

Iowa Department of Public Safety(SAC CITY, Iowa) -- A man was renovating his home in Sac City, Iowa, when he came across what appeared to be skeletal remains in his basement. When he called the police, authorities arrived on scene and confirmed his suspicion.

“It was found buried in a very inaccessible spot in the basement,” Sac City Chief of Police John Thomsen told ABC News. “There are suspicious circumstances to it just for where the remains were found.”

The remains were sent to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and possible identification, according to police. Dental records positively identified the remains as those of Mark Koster.

Koster, 58, went missing on July 4, 2009. His disappearance was investigated at the time and a search warrant served on his home turned up no signs of foul play. He was legally declared dead at his family’s request in 2010, according to ABC News’ Sioux City affiliate KCAU-TV.

He reportedly had an unidentified male roommate living with him for about three months before he disappeared, Thomsen said. Neighbors knew of the man, but do not know his name. The case is currently under investigation.

Copyright 2012 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


Skulls in Florida Backyard Belong to Peru, Date Back to 1200

ABC News(WINTER GARDEN, Fla.) -- The discovery of two skulls in a Florida backyard sparked questions of intrigue and murder when they were found in January, but now investigators say the origin of the bones is even more mysterious than they thought.

The two skulls, of a 10-year-old boy and older man, date to 1200 to 1400, and show signs of being from Peru or South America, thousands of miles and a millennium from Winter Garden, Fla.

"The mystery is how they ended up there," medical examiner Jan Garavaglia said Monday. "We don't have any way of finding out."

The skulls were discovered in January when a plumber installing an in-ground pool came upon a piece of bone and reported it to the police.

Garavaglia determined immediately that the bone was from the face of a young child, aged 10 or 11, and alerted authorities that because of human tissue found still intact on the bone, it could be a recently-deceased child, buried illegally. The skulls were found with shards of pottery and textiles and a scrap of newspaper dated 1978.

The bones, it turned out, had a lengthier history than the 30 years or so since they were buried in Florida. When x-rayed by the medical examiner's office, it was clear that the bones were hundreds of years old, and that the human tissue on the cheek of the skull had been mummified. The skulls featured an "Inca bone," a telltale sign of a human from the Incan culture of Peru, Garavaglia said.

"This was clearly a secondary burial site," she said.

Garavaglia enlisted the help of archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of Central Florida and Yale to try and trace the origins of the skulls. Researchers identified cloth items found with the bones as that of primitive slings and purses made of woven materials and non-human hair.

What the researchers cannot figure out, and Garavaglia says they probably will not figure out, is how the items came to be buried in Florida.

The archaeologists and anthropologists will continue to research the bones, which will become part of published scientific studies. Ultimately, the skulls could be returned to Peru.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Skulls in Florida Backyard Belong to Peru, Date Back to 1200


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


Skeleton Found on Long Island Beach Identified as Megan Waterman

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(YAPHANK, N.Y.) -- The skeletons of one of four women, believed to have been murdered by a serial killer and whose remains were found on a Long Island beach, have been identified as belonging to a 22-year-old mother from Maine.

Police identified one of the skeletons found along a secluded stretch of Gilgo Beach in Suffolk County, N.Y., as belonging to Megan Waterman, a young woman who was last seen at a nearby Holiday Inn with her boyfriend in June.

Police accidently found the bodies in December while looking for a missing woman. The remains were scattered across a quarter-mile stretch of marshy grasslands near a parkway and police immediately deduced that a serial killer was responsible.

Waterman's mother, Lorraine Ela, confirmed her daughter had been identified on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the missing woman.

"To let all know...the remains found have been confirmed to be my daughter, Megan Waterman...a very sad day," Ela wrote on the page about 30 minutes before Suffolk County police were scheduled to hold a news conference.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told ABC News in December, "Four bodies found in the same location pretty much speaks for itself. It's more than a coincidence. We could have a serial killer."

Police have yet to identify the other three skeletons, or determine if any of the remains belong to Shonnan Gilbert, 24, a prostitute whose disappearance. prompted the initial search of the beach.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio