Human Skulls Found Present Challenges For Experts

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Friday, February 17, 2012

"If it's small, it's female. It's not that simple. There are so many nuances to this and there is so much detail to look at and compile," said Dr. Peer Moore-Jansen, chair of the anthropology department at Wichita State University.

Dr. Moore-Jansen and other anthropologists presented their preliminary findings to investigators on the skull found on Jan. 29th in Cheney.

"It looked like it had been exposed for some time. It looked like it had been outside for a period of time. It's also something that could've been, my estimate was, one plus years, but it could've been one to ten years," he said.

The skull was found partially buried in a farmstead at 737th East Second Street in Cheney. Anthropologists determined that the partial skull, which had no jaw, belonged to an African-American woman, who died between the ages of 35 to 50.

"Partial skeleton remains or skeletal remains are very difficult cases to investigate from the beginning. When we get out in the scene, there are a lot of variables that cause problems for us to deal with," said Captain Greg Pollock with the investigations division of the Sheriff's department.

Variables like weather, amount of foot traffic, and the animals that may have carried off portions of the skeleton, all become factors and challenges in identifying the person.

"It would've had a face but something, probably an animal, had carried it around. It looked like the face had been ripped off fairly recently," said Dr. Moore-Jansen.

Last April, another skull was found within eight miles of the farmstead. The Sheriff's department does not think the two skulls are connected.

The skull was that of an African-American woman between the ages of 18 and 25. Both a skull and a bone were found at that location.

"The question was, is this part of the same individual, because this was found in a stream or in a creek. What happens is as the creek washes down the body, the bones separate eventually," said Dr. Moore-Jansen.

Any citizen with information may contact a detective in Sheriff's Investigations at 316-660-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.


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