Image courtesy of freehdw.com.
Columbia County, January 1991
This unidentified man is Columbia County’s oldest unclaimed body in the NamUs database. So what all do we know about this man? Not very much. Here is a quick summary of the details, followed by some unanswered questions that I have, and a link to the NamUs report.
On Sunday, January 27th, 1991, an unidentified hunter found a skull in the woods while hunting. It is only the skull. Reports state that the hunter carried the skull home then brought it to authorities. However, the hunter was unable to take investigators back to the place where he (I assume the hunter is a he.) found the skull. This makes me wonder exactly why the hunter was unable to bring the investigators back to the place where he was hunting? Don’t most hunters know where they are when they are hunting? And wouldn’t this hunter mark the spot that he found the skull so that he could return with police to search the area?
Now we know the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the deceased, let’s explore the deceased himself. Apparently the skull was in decent enough shape that the hunter could tell what it was and carry it around. It was also in good enough shape that the coroner could identify the fact that this person was a man between the ages of 20 and 50 years old, which is a pretty wide range and is a little disappointing. Perhaps better technology exists now to determine a more accurate age?
Another disappointment is the estimate of the time of death. The “Probable year of death” on the NamUs report is listed as “0 to 1991”. I mean, did they even try to determine a year of death? Could this be 1 year, 5 years, 40 years, 300 years? Certainly technology exists now to date remains. Is it expensive? Maybe, but it bears researching and reconsidering. Someone could still be out there wondering what happened to his or her loved one.
On the bright side, here is something promising and what I think could be a helpful clue to discover this person’s identity and possibly even give a better year of death date range. The coroner reports medical findings on this skull. It is noted that the deceased had prior surgery and that there was “Previous injury to the nasal bones. They were broken and reduced in size.”. To me this is very promising, because the technology to perform surgical procedures like this hasn’t been around forever. But I do wish this was more clear and specific. What kind of previous injury or what makes it look like there was an injury? If the bones were broken and reduced in size, could this have been sinus surgery for a chronic sinus problem or perhaps even a nose job/plastic surgery or was this something reconstructive? It seems to me like that is something important to distinguish here, especially if you are hoping to have someone identify this person.
Next, what about DNA? Reports state there was insufficient dna found. I know a lot has changed with DNA technology lately. Maybe someone could revisit this case and find something on the skull now that would help. Also, what about dental information? The report states that no information is available but fails to say why. Were there no teeth in this skull? Or perhaps there were teeth but no dental impressions were taken?
This case is particularly frustrating for me because I feel like no one even tried to pursue this based on the information that is noted in the NamUs database and the lack of news coverage in the county where he was discovered. Hopefully, I am wrong about that and there is more information to be found that I have not uncovered yet. I checked the Columbia County News – Times archive papers published on January 30th, 1991 and February 6th 1991 and there were no mentions of this grisly discovery at all. My next step is to search the Augusta Chronicle archives to see if anything was reported about this sad skull back then and to see if the news has more details that were not included in the report that I found in NamUs. You can read the report for yourself here: Namus #2060.