Recovery of highly fragmented human remains within lake shallows

Recovery of highly fragmented human remains within lake shallows

2011 - 2013

Forensics and Science

In 2012 police contacted Dickson Laboratory staff following the discovery of highly fragmented skeletonised remains in shallow water within a well known lake.

tray of bones cropSpread over a wide area, the bones were associated with hessian sacking, metal and other debris including coins more than 30 years old.  How they got there remains unclear, although it is possible that the sack had originally been in deep water but had resurfaced subsequently. Maceration of the bones may have resulted from impact with a boat propeller.  Dickson lab staff led the police underwater unit in a standard grid-search recovery over 216m² of lake shallows, up to 3m depth, recovering more than 1000 fragments and a number of associated items.  Subsequent laboratory examination of the fragments and DNA analysis revealed that the bones were those of a small, older female with arthritis.  The friable nature of the bone and significant plankton encrustations implied that the remains had either been in the water for a considerable time.  To date, identification of the lady in the watery grave has not been achieved and how she came to be there remains a mystery.

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