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Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Skull found in Sedgwick County tied to 1949 Halloween prank

February 22, 2012

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— A human skull found in south-central Kansas last month turned out to be nothing more than a remnant of a six-decade-old Halloween prank.

Capt. Greg Pollock of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that there is no link between the skull and other skeletal remains that were found last spring eight miles away.

He said the former owner of the property near Cheney where the skull was found said it had been in her family's possession since an unknown person left on their doorstep in Circleville in 1949. Tired of lugging the skull around, the ex-owner said she buried it before moving in 2010.

"She figured she would never hear of it again until she was watching the news last week and saw all the detectives searching the backyard of her previous house," Pollock said.

He said people who were considering buying the property noticed a partially buried white object. They kicked it and quickly realized it was a skull.

"That's when they contacted authorities," Pollock said, "of course after they called all their friends and took pictures of it."

He said the former property owners told authorities that before burying the skull, it had been taken to the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas in the 1970s. The family was told back then that the skull belonged to someone of Asian descent and most likely was a World War II souvenir.

"I don't know how much validity there is to that," Pollock said, as an anthropologist recently said the skull belonged to a black woman who was 35 to 50 years old.

Pollock said multiple relatives confirmed the story of how the skull came into the family's possession and that it was a relief the skull wasn't connected to the other remains. The earlier case is under investigation.

Meanwhile, Sedgwick County authorities have closed their investigation into skull's origins and turned their findings over to authorities in Jackson County, where Circleville is located. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Pollock has been told human remains occasionally turn up in Jackson County, particularly after flooding.

"They have Indian burial grounds in the area," he said. "In fact, when I talked to one of their detectives, they found a skull cap last year that dated back over 100 years."

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