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MBI and PRC Sheriff’s Department investigating grim discovery

GRUESOME FIND: The discovery of human skeletal remains is being investigated by law enforcement agencies. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

GRUESOME FIND: The discovery of human skeletal remains is being investigated by law enforcement agencies.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Wednesday morning investigators with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations were processing the scene where skeletal human remains were found off of Rock Ranch Road Tuesday afternoon.
Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said a property owner looking for her lost ducks found a human skull Tuesday afternoon in a wooded area near her home. At first she thought the skull was a novelty item made of plastic, but upon further inspection she discovered it was real, prompting her to call the Sheriff’s Department.
The scene was secured until Wednesday morning when crime scene investigators with MBI and forensic anthropologists with the University of Southern Mississippi could process, Tucker said.
Sheriff David Allison said the skull was found about 20 feet from the rest of the remains. Tucker said a pelvis and other bones, which were mostly intact, were also discovered.
It appears as though the body has been at the scene for some time, but an exact date of death is unknown, said Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage.
So far, the investigation estimates the remains have been there between two to three years, Allison said.
Allison said a wallet was found with the body, leading investigators to think the deceased was bout 52-years-old at the time of death. Forensic examination of the remains determined they belong to a white male who was about that age. The identity of the deceased will be released once it has been positively established.
Turnage said the body will be sent to the Mississippi Crime lab in Jackson where an autopsy will attempt to discover the cause of death, identity of the body and a more exact date of death. Turnage said it appeared dental work had been conducted on the person at some point in their life, so dental records may help provide positive identification.
It is currently unknown if the cause of death was due to natural causes, or foul play, Tucker said. However, it appears there was no attempt to bury the body, since it was only partially covered by leaves and sediment from the wetland area where the body was discovered. A firearm was recovered near the body, Tucker said. Allison said after closer inspection the firearm was determined to be a shotgun that had shells in the magazine, but due to the corroded nature of the weapon investigators could not tell if a round was in the barrel or if it had been fired.
Allison said there have been no reports of missing people in Pearl River County, other than 33-year-old Louis Kathmann, who has been missing since July of 2012. However, since these remains are suspected to belong to a white male who was about 52-years-old at the time of his death, these remains are not thought to belong to Kathmann, Allison said.
Investigators are now in the process of speaking with a sister of a man identified by the driver’s license in the wallet, who lives in Pearl River County.
Allison said one of the first questions the investigators intend to ask is why the man was never reported as missing. They will also try to get in touch with the man’s dentist to secure his dental records.
“We just now started on the investigation, so we have a lot of work to do,” Allison said.
Additional details will follow when law enforcement has more information to release.