Part of skull found near mining town

Identification of human remains found over the weekend on a rugged, remote hillside north of Somerset could take weeks to months, Gunnison County officials said Tuesday.

The remains — a skull missing its lower jaw and other human bones scattered in a roughly 100-foot radius around the skull — were found Saturday by a worker who was clearing trees, according to Gunnison County Sheriff Rick Murdie.

“No flesh, nothing ... it had been there a good long time,” Murdie said, who declined to offer a time frame estimate.

Murdie and Gunnison County Coroner Frank Vader said Tuesday that a determination of sex and age for the remains had not been made.

Aside from the skull, Vader said “associated artifacts” were found nearby, including unspecified bones and an item of clothing Vader declined to describe in detail.

The skull and bones were all found in plain view; none was partially buried, Murdie said.

The skull had two remaining upper teeth. When asked if he believed the teeth were still in a condition that would allow a viable comparison to dental records, Murdie said, “Yes, I think they would be.”

The remains were turned over to the Gunnison County Coroner’s Office on Monday after deputies had searched the area around the find Sunday.

Murdie said they’ll be returning to the area soon.

Murdie described the land as heavily wooded on private property, behind a locked gate, and on a roughly 50-degree slope.

“It has been logged and it’s some of the nastiest country I’ve been around in a long time,” he said. “You couldn’t get me to hunt out there and don’t believe anyone else would.”

The property owners, who were not identified, have cooperated with investigators, Murdie said.

Murdie said Gunnison County has no active missing persons cases and they were in the process Tuesday of contacting surrounding agencies about Saturday’s discovery.

Mesa County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said they hadn’t heard from Gunnison County.


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