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Probe into Missoula bone discovery continues - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Probe into Missoula bone discovery continues

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MISSOULA - The skeletal remains of three children left in a box in a shed in Missoula have police investigating a mystery: who were the children, how did they die and how long ago did it happen.

A cleaning crew discovered the remains back in September. Missoula police tell us they have a "person of interest" they would like to talk to about it but emphasize that the person is not being considered as a suspect in the case.

A search warrant obtained by MTN News shows that police were called to a home on the 2100 block of South 12th Street West in late September to investigate the remains. 

"Loose teeth, there was what appeared to be bone from a lower jaw, and others that were not as specifically described, but I would call them pieces of bone. There were also rocks, in this box," said Missoula Police spokesman Sgt. Travis Welsh.

A professor from the University of Montana Anthropology Department confirmed that the remains are of three children, and estimated to be six-to-10 years old, five-to-eight years old and two-to-four years old at the time of death.

A box containing the remains was discovered by a cleaning crew that was contracted to clean up the rental property after its tenant was evicted the week before in late September.

Once the search warrant was obtained, follow up investigations revealed no evidence of a crime occurring at that property. The children's identities, as well as the cause and manner of their death is now under investigation. 

Police officials say they are working with the Montana State Crime Lab and other agencies on the case.

"Nothing we've been able to connect them too yet, however, we are working with the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children, and other missing person databases to see if that's a possibility," Sgt. Welsh told MTN News.

"The thing is, there are missing children all over the world. And the thing is, we don't know that this particular case is isolated to the city of Missoula. We don't know where the bones came from, and if they were transported from one area to another, and ended up here," he added.

At this point, only a very broad time frame is available to describe how old the bones are. The anthropology department members say they are not ancient, and likely modern. 

There are no suspects currently, as police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding who these kids are, and their deaths.


(12.13.17 report)

MISSOULA - Missoula Police have confirmed to MTN News that they found a box containing bones and teeth, believed to be from three children, in a Missoula shed in September.

A search warrant obtained by MTN News shows that police were called to the home on Sept. 27 located on the 2100 block of South 12th Street West for a report of the discovery of possible human remains.

The former tenant of the rental property had been evicted the previous week. A cleaning crew was contracted to clean up the items left behind by the evicted renter. That’s when the cleaning crew found a box in a shed on the property that contained what was suspected human remains. 

"Loose teeth, there was what appeared to be bone from a lower jaw, and others that were not as specifically described, but I would call them pieces of bone," said Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh. "There were also rocks in this box."

Welsh says it is not uncommon for police to check out reports about discovered bones.

"The fact that they are human makes this case unusual. It's not uncommon that people call in a report that they found bones of some kind. Typically, they are determined to be animal bones," Welsh said. 

After a search warrant was obtained, Welsh says that follow up investigations revealed no evidence of a crime occurring at that property.

The children's identities and the cause and manner of their death is now under investigation.  Police officials say they are working with the Montana State Crime Lab which verified that the remains were human. 

"Nothing we've been able to connect them too yet, however, we are working with the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children, and other missing person databases to see if that's a possibility," Welsh said. "The thing is, there are missing children all over the world. And the thing is, we don't know that this particular case is isolated to the city of Missoula. We don't know where the bones came from, and if they were transported from one area to another, and ended up here."

A University of Montana anthropology professor also determined they were “likely modern and not archaeological.” The professor estimated the ages of the children to be 6-to-10 years old, 5-to-8 years old and 2-to-4 years old at the time of death.

A suspect is not in custody at this time and Missoula police say they are conducting an open investigation. 

-- Additional information from Melissa Rafferty

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