Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 16, 2013

County officials receive update on human remains

By Steven Penn steven.penn@flyergroup.com
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — BROWNSBURG — Recently released lab results have provided new information to Hendricks County authorities working to uncover the identity of human remains found over the summer in the northeast corner of the county.

The remains were found July 22 inside a 120-gallon well tank on a three-acre vacant lot on Maloney Road near County Road 1050 East.

According to authorities, the property owner, who had purchased it about a month before, found the tank, which is similar to a large water heater, while clearing the premises. Also inside the tank were some articles of clothing and shoes.

Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lt. Jim Yetter said the analysis by the University of Indianapolis’ forensics anthropology team was compromised by the erosion that occurred while the remains were in the tank, but investigators now have a starting point.

“(Forensics) believe the decedent was an adult male, at least 40 years of age, however probably older, in the vicinity of 5 feet 9 inches tall,” he said. “Apparently, due to the error range that they have in their testing, they said they would not exclude anyone between 5 feet 5 inches to 6 feet 2 inches. Obviously, there’s a large parameter there on the height.”

Also unknown at this time is the race of the individual.

“They’re going to still try to do some further testing to see if they can give us the race of the person,” Yetter said.

Yetter said authorities are still working to gather evidence.

“There is still going to be a final report that will hopefully have some more information about the race,” he said. “But right now, we’re just compiling as many pieces of the puzzle as we can so that we can hopefully use that information to match a missing person case or something like that in the area to hopefully get us in the right direction to identify this person.”

Yetter said there are some unique obstacles in the case.

“It certainly is different than a cut-and-dry case where we immediately know who the deceased is and we can immediately start talking to family, friends, co-workers — what have you — and find out what may have happened to the person,” he said. “At this point in time, it’s been over three months now and we don’t have any information about who this person is. It makes it very difficult for us to move forward to No. 1 identify, but more importantly, figure out what happened to this person.”

As the case progresses, he said investigators will attempt to cross-reference the articles of clothing with missing person’s reports.

“We have been trying to use those (articles of clothing) to try to somehow lock down some information to also help identify this person,” Yetter said. “Everything we can get our hands on, we’re going to try to use to identify this person. This is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Even with the new information, Yetter said he understands it’s still an uphill battle.

“The problem that we’re going to run into is that the parameters are pretty large,” he said. “Yes, it is a male, but at least 40, probably older, and then also could be anywhere from 5 feet 5 inches to 6 feet 2 inches. It’s given us more information, but not really specific information. It’s still a pretty daunting task ahead and it’s still going to take probably a great bit of further investigation and some luck, to be honest with you, to try to figure this out.”