Almost a year after authorities reported human remains were discovered near Rimini, they have made some determinations, but many questions remain.
A U.S. Forest Service ranger discovered a human skull in the Minnehaha Creek area on Aug. 7, 2019.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said, because of the condition of the remains, it has been challenging to make any determinations about them.
“We’ve had somewhat of a difficult time identifying who they are,” he said.
Dutton said they have determined the remains were those of a male between the ages of 30 and 60, who was either Caucasian or Asian.
They believe they are relatively recent, rather than historical. The sheriff’s office has not been able to determine the cause or manner of death.
The remains have now been sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where specialists will extract DNA and complete a full dental analysis. That information will then be compared against a national FBI database.
“We’ll get out a national search of anybody who’s missing,” Dutton said. “It just takes time.”
Dutton said there are several reasons why it has taken so long to complete the analysis. The Texas laboratory is used by agencies nationwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has limited its operations.
“We should know more when they have the opportunity,” said Dutton. “I can’t give you an exact date, but we’re hoping in a month or two that we will have a hit on the dental records, and the DNA will help us substantially.”
Dutton said the laboratory runs on grant funding, and it will not charge Lewis and Clark County.
Authorities have looked at whether the remains are connected to other missing persons cases in Montana, but have had no luck. For example, Dutton said it was determined they were not linked to legs that had been discovered outside Butte several years ago.