Skulls found near Old 94 bridge

A person walking along Old Highway 94 in southern Callaway County last Sunday was crossing a bridge over a creek — and saw a skull, part of another skull and part of a headstone in the creek bed.

Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane on Wednesday confirmed those findings in the Missouri River bottoms east of Jefferson City’s airport and sewer plant.

The items were found on a private farm. Crane didn’t identify the property owner.

He hasn’t publicized the find because, “I don’t want to give out something when I don’t really know what I’ve got,” Crane said. “If it was a body that was fresh, I’d tell you — but we don’t (have) a complete body. ...

“We’re just trying to figure out for ourselves what we’ve got.”

He’s generally confident the remains aren’t from a recent murder or missing person’s case, Crane said.

“At this point, we don’t have any reason to believe that,” he said. “But we’re going to do all the things that we need to do.”

The bones and headstone were sent to the Boone-Callaway County medical examiner’s office, and an anthropologist has been asked to review the items.

The sheriff hopes to have some preliminary answers by early next week.

“When the anthropologists (finish), they’ll be able to tell us the gender of, at least, the complete skull,” he said. “The other skull is just part of a cap.

“The indication is, maybe this person has been through an autopsy or something like that — just because there was a very surgical cut around that skull. It’s not like it’s been broke or fractured or something like that.”

Information from the headstone, including part of a name, is being shared with area historical societies, to see what information they might have that can help identify the bones.

After the floods of 1993 and ’95 tore through cemeteries and sent coffins and bodies downstream, Crane said he can’t be sure the bones found Sunday even came from Mid-Missouri.

“With the floods in the river in the past, there have been graves that have washed out; the headstone marker gives us kind of a clue that, maybe, that’s the deal,” Crane said, noting that the nearly 31-foot flood this past June backed up into the creek where the bones were found.

“We’ve also had, in that area in the past, a native burial ground that was found years ago,” he recalled. “Until the anthropologists give us more indication of what we’ve got and how long they’ve been there, I really don’t have a lot to release.”

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