SOMERVELL COUNTY – Somervell County Chief Deputy Brian Peterson confirmed early Friday afternoon that portions of unidentifiable human remains were found Thursday afternoon on the premises of Ingram Sand and Gravel.
The remains were spotted by a worker who was operating a large vehicle – about the size of a dump truck, according to Peterson. The height of the vehicle allowed for the driver to notice the remains that would not have been as easy to see at ground level or in a patrol car during previous investigations of the site, Peterson noted.
The Somervell County Sheriff’s Department has enlisted the assistance of Hood County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Texas Rangers to conduct the investigation.
Somervell County Sheriff’s Department said the remains have been taken to the UNT Forensic Anthropology Lab located in Denton for identification.
“Right now at this time, we cannot make an assumption as to who it is the remains belong to,” Peterson said. “There is just not enough evidence available to identify and the process of identifying could take a few months.”
A typical timeframe for an anthropologist to examine and identify bone matter can take up to three months, according to the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology’s database.
The database states that the crucial first step for the anthropologist will be to develop a biological profile where he or she will look for characteristics such as healed fractures, diseases or medical interventions that may be consistent with a missing person’s.
“Constructing a biological profile is an important first step when skeletonized human remains are discovered, as this information can be used to identify specific individuals or narrow a list of possible missing persons,” the database reads.
Anthropologists are skilled in determining one of several types of trauma – sharp force, blunt fore, projectile force, strangulation, electrocution, chemical or heat related – and, while not legally allowed responsible for determining the cause of death, their information will be heavily relied upon by the coroner to determine the cause of death, the database states.
After determining a potential cause of death, the anthropologist will then determine the time since death by analyzing biological and non-biological changes to the remains, the database states.
By using biological – such as human agents, animals, plants, insects and invertebrates – or non-biological evidence – like carnivore scavenging and rodent gnawing – the anthropologist can “estimate the length of time a body has been buried or exposed, or determine whether a set of remains has been moved,” SFUM’s database explains.
Peterson made it clear that there is no way to know whom the remains may belong to at this time.
During April 2015, the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department deployed its drone near the same area, located off of Mitchell Bend Hwy, where the remains were found, but Peterson said the heat sensors did not locate any human remains at that time.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) reported that as of Dec. 31, 2013 there were 84,136 active missing person records in the NCIC Missing Person File that began in 1975. Of the 306,538 files utilized by the Missing Person Circumstances field in 2013, 293,684 of those were considered runaways, 2,310 as abducted by non-custodial parent, 335 as abducted by stranger and 10,209 as adults.
In total, there are currently three missing persons listed on the Somervell and Hood County Crime Stoppers websites.
Jana Mann Witt, 44, of Glen Rose was last seen Aug. 17, 2005.
William Moore, 82, of Granbury was last seen March 10, 2012.
Shane Michael Siddall, 31, of Granbury was last seen April 13, 2015.