Thursday, December 12, 2013
PORTLAND — Authorities will do an autopsy Tuesday to try to identify human remains that were found off a trail near the Stroudwater River and determine how the person died.
The female body apparently had been there since last fall, based on the vegetation underneath it, a forensic anthropologist told Portland police investigators.
The bones showed characteristics of having been frozen and then thawed, indicating they had been outdoors through the winter, Dr. Marcella Sorg told police.
Police said they have an idea who the person was but have no wallet or other belongings to confirm it, said Lt. Scott Pelletier. Eventually, they may resort to comparing the woman's DNA with potential family members, he said.
Police have reviewed missing-persons reports in search of a match but have not yet found one, Pelletier said.
A man who went to the area to pick wild blueberries Saturday was making his way back to a city trail that runs off Hutchins Drive, on the western edge of the city near the Westbrook line, when he waded through an area of dense undergrowth around 4 p.m. and discovered the bones.
Initially he thought they were wrapped in a blanket, but police evidence technicians determined that the cloth was from lightweight pants that the person was wearing.
Police searched the area with the help of a state police cadaver dog and found many bones, including the pelvis, which showed that the person was a woman.
Nothing indicated any crime had occurred, police said. An autopsy by the state Medical Examiner's Office is expected to determine the woman's cause of death.
"They'll inspect every bone that's there, particularly the vital areas like the skull," Pelletier said.
The woman may have had a medical condition that could help identify her, Pelletier said. He would not elaborate.
The autopsy will involve the painstaking process of positioning each bone that was recovered. Police have not determined the woman's age but could tell she was neither young nor elderly.
The remains were found about 60 yards from the trail, in an overgrown area. The area is not frequented by homeless people, Pelletier said.
No cars were recovered in that area, so it does not appear that the woman drove there, he said.
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: email@example.com