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Human remains found in Helena will be sent to Missoula

Posted at 12:09 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 14:09:39-04

HELENA – Contractors were working on running a sewer line to a residence adjacent to Robinson Park near Livingston Avenue and Lamborn Street when they uncovered significantly decomposed remains.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Bryan Backeberg said an excavator was digging in the asphalt and that workers originally thought the bones belonged to an animal.

The remains were uncovered about four to five feet below ground. "Until they dug a little further and then noticed kind of a mandible and some remains and part of a casket," Backeberg said.

Backeberg added that workers then discovered part of a skull.

According to Helena History, the Robinson Park area was the Old Catholic Cemetery between 1863 and 1908.

When Resurrection Cemetery was opened on North Montana, some of the graves were moved but around 1,600 individuals remained.  Neglect of the old burial ground took a toll over the years and the cemetery fell into disrepair.

"Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of the casket that’s still intact," Backeberg said. "We did collect a large majority of the remains."

The remains will be sent to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula and the University of Montana’s Anthropology Department will also investigate the remains.

"I would just say that if you find yourself in these situations, please call, let us know, we will come out and collect everything we can if we need to and go from there," Backeberg said.