Officials: Bones found in state park are human; foul play suspected

CELINA, Ohio (WANE) Bones found in a state park in Mercer County, Ohio are those of a human.

In a press conference Friday, authorities said the bones recovered nearly two weeks ago in a state park south of Celina, Ohio, near Coldwater Creek have been identified as human, specifically that of a 20-35-year-old man. They are believed to have been placed in the wooded area sometime within the last six months.

As such, foul play is suspected. Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said the investigation is now being treated as a homicide.

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The bones were found Jan. 3 by someone walking in the state park. After police investigated and gathered the remains, they were taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s forensic lab where it was determined there was a high probability of them being human.

The sheriff’s department also contacted an expert at a university who concluded based on photos that there was a high probability the bones are human. After officers finished collecting evidence, the bones were transported to the university expert for evaluation.

On Friday, Grey said the bones collected were a mix of human and animal. Grey refused to say how many human bones were recovered from the site but said it was not a full skeleton.

It is one victim, though – a 25-30-year-old man, 5-feet-7 to 6-feet-11 tall, Grey said. A race was not determined.

Grey said DNA tests on the bones are pending. The bones will be sent from Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s lab in London, Ohio to the University of North Texas, which specializes in such analysis, to determine a cause of death.

Once those results come in, Grey said the information will be entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System to – hopefully – learn whose body it is.

The case will then be forwarded to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Grey said.

Grey said there are no missing persons reports in Mercer County. His department will look into like reports from other counties as part of the investigation.

He also asked for the public to report any missing persons within the last year to law enforcement.

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