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Old human bones unearthed in Silver City area

Not Crites | Crew digging up rock discovers remains
2013-09-17T00:19:00Z Old human bones unearthed in Silver City areaBy EVE BYRON Independent Record Helena Independent Record
September 17, 2013 12:19 am  • 

An excavation operation unexpectedly unearthed human bones in the Silver City area Monday.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson said about 30 to 40 bones were discovered by workers who were digging up rock and fill dirt. In his opinion, the bones are maybe around 100 years old, and while he doesn’t believe any foul play was involved, he still will send them to the state crime lab in Missoula for additional research.

“There’s no suspicion of foul play, but we never know. We’re treating them like that until we can rule out everything,” Nelson said. “I don’t know how long they’ve been there, how old they are, or the age or sex of the person. That’s why we have the people at the University of Montana and state medical lab officers to look into it.”

He theorized that a variety of circumstances could have led to the bones’ final resting place. The person could have been buried in a shallow grave, or even just covered with rocks if the ground were frozen decades ago. It could have been a person who was out looking for sheep, fell down and was buried by windblown dirt. It could have been someone killed in the 1935 earthquakes, or a miner who died in a cave-in.

“You just never know,” Nelson said. “But they are from an adult, and I feel comfortable saying they’ve been there for many, many years.”

He quickly added that he doesn’t suspect they’re from the unsolved murder of Mike Crites or other recent missing persons cases.

Nelson praised the excavators for reaching out to authorities as soon as they found the bones, which aided the investigation.

“My compliments to the people who unearthed them,” Nelson said. “As soon as they noticed them they stopped.”

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or

Follow Eve on Twitter @IR_EveByron

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