October 26, 1995 in Nation/World

Landowner Finds Human Skull Forensic Dentist Will Attempt To Determine Identity Of Remains

By The Spokesman-Review

At first, John Erwin thought he was looking at a wasps’ nest.

Then he thought it was a rock.

So it was quite a surprise when he discovered that the grayish-white orb was a human skull.

“I reached down to pick it up and I could see the teeth,” he said Wednesday.

Erwin discovered a human skull - minus the lower jaw bone - Wednesday morning on his property east of Athol.

He said the skull had two holes in it, holes he believes were made by two gunshots.

Although Kootenai County Sheriff’s officials confirmed there were holes in the skull, investigators said they had not yet determined what caused them.

“We’re not going to make any assumptions at this time,” said Capt. Ben Wolfinger. He said the bone will be taken to a forensic dentist for tests.

“It could be a skull that’s several months old or several decades old,” Wolfinger said. “Hopefully, a forensic dentist will help us identify at least the age of it, if not the owner of the skull.”

Erwin lives in Post Falls but owns more than seven acres off of Old Railroad Grade Road near Farragut State Park.

He was cleaning brush off the land when he saw the object.

“I saw what I thought to be a beehive,” Erwin said, explaining he touched it with the tip of his chain saw.

When the object didn’t give, he reached down and tipped the skull over just far enough to see what it was. Greenish moss traced its way across the pale bone. Two holes about the size of a pencil pierced the right side of the head.

“I just thought, ‘This is a murder,”’ Erwin said Wednesday. “Nobody who commits suicide shoots themselves twice in the side of the head.”

Erwin called the Sheriff’s Department from a neighbor’s home.

“I’ve walked right through that spot half a dozen times,” Erwin said, explaining he never noticed the whitened bone before. “You never think you’re going to find a skull.”

However, three weeks ago, Erwin did find a four-inch piece of bone about a 100 feet from where he found the skull Wednesday. As a hunter, he said the bone seemed too thick to be a deer’s.

“When I’m cleaning from now on I’ll be checking everything,” Erwin said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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