Human skull fragment among bones found in Riverton

May 21, 2013

A forensic anthropologist has identified one of the 12 bones found Friday in Riverton Township as being part of a human skull. Mason County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy confirmed this morning that the anthropologist, through a photograph, made the confirmation of the fragment. Confirmation will be made of all the bones’ status when they are sent to be physically examined.

Sheriff Kim Cole said that the fragment appears to be larger than that of a child.

The bones were found Friday on Morton Road north of Chauvez Road in a ditch. Cole said no houses are in that immediate vicinity and he didn’t know the circumstances of how they were found. 

The Mason County Medical Examiner’s office, including Dr. Marc Keen, along with Mason County Sheriff’s Office detectives, collected the bones from the site and photographed them. Keen examined the bones but did not make a determination. Photographs were sent to the anthropologist who confirmed at least one was human. Brown said a detective will be taking the bones to Michigan State University Wednesday where they will be physically examined.

The bones are being treated as evidence.

Anytime we have property that comes into our possession it is treated as evidence,” Brown said. 

Cole said he is unaware of any open missing persons cases in Mason County, or the immediate area, with the exception of the infant Catherine “Baby Kate” Phillips and Jessica Heeringa. Baby Kate, at 4-months-old, was taken by her father, Sean Phillips, in June 2011, not to be found again. Phillips is serving a sentence of up to 15 years at Jackson prison for unlawful imprisonment. A murder investigation is being conducted on that case. Heeringa is the Norton Shores woman who was allegedly taken from a Norton Shores gas station last month.

“I know there are people who want to connect these bones in the worst way to Baby Kate,” Cole said. “But, the fragment is too big to be that of a child’s. We would be failing in our duties as a sheriff’s office if we tried to make the connection. We need to take this fragment to whatever road it leads us down. We can’t make it Baby Kate.”

Cole said the bones and the skull fragment appear too old to be that of any recent disappearances.

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