Human remains unearthed

The Port Orchard Police Department said Monday it does not suspect foul play after a construction worker discovered human remains near the Retsil Veteran’s Home access road. But the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office is still investigating to completely rule out that possibility, according to Deputy Coroner Louise Hall.

“We’re handling it as we would any crime scene,” Hall said, explaining that although the fragments of skull, ribs, pelvis and other bones do not appear to be from anyone who was recently killed or buried, her office is still examining the remains.

“It’s going to take at least a week to accurately determine the age of the person and the length of time the body has been buried,” she said, adding that her office is consulting with a forensic anthropologist from King County whom she said will hopefully be able to examine the body this week.

According to the police incident report prepared by Det. Jerry Jensen, the first bones were discovered around 7:30 a.m. on Friday by a construction worker excavating near the city’s sewage treatment plant on Beach Drive.

When police responded to the site, the man said he found what appeared to be bits of skull while digging up dirt near the new access road to the Veterans’ Home just up the hill.

The workers quickly blocked off the area, he said, then found a much larger piece of the skull and called the police, who eventually found several more bones.

Police then contacted employees at the Veterans’ Home, who confirmed there used to be a cemetery on the site where the skull was found. The employees also told police that when the cemetery was moved sometime between 1915 and 1917, one grave could not be located and was not moved with the rest.

“It appears that the bones have been there for a long, long time,” said Sgt. Mark Duncan, explaining that his office’s preliminary determination is that they are from the unmoved gravesite.

Jensen noted in his report that the bones “appeared to be jumbled, and probably were moved about several times during various construction activities.”

Hall said her office received about seven to 10 calls about found bones last year, and most such remains end up being from animals, such as deer or bear.

“We’re contacted for every single one,” she said. “Which is great, because we’d rather be safe than sorry.”

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