Female's skeletal remains found in Loudon County wrapped in comforter

By News Sentinel staff Knoxville News Sentinel
LOUDON Authorities said today they are treating the case of skeletal remains of a woman discovered in a wooded area on Thursday as a homicide, even though an exact cause of death is not immediately obvious.

"We feel like it is (a homicide), and we are treating it as such," said Chief Deputy Tony Aikens of the Loudon County Sheriff's Office.

The remains include a human skull and were wrapped in what appears to be a comforter, Ninth Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson said today. He said the remains have been identified as female by Dr. Murray Marks, a forensic anthropologist, appear to have been left there for several years. Age and race were not immediately determined.

Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton came to the scene to discuss the case with Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider and other investigators.

Stockton said his department has at least two "cold cases" of missing females that go back a number of years.

The remains were found around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, in a secluded area off Eblen Road, by a man and his son who were hunting for scrap metal. The body was in the debris of an abandoned shed that had fallen to the ground, Aikens said.

The scrap hunters "reported that a human skull rolled out of the comforter as one of (them) looked to see what was inside, after (he saw) what appeared to be a somewhat sun bleached bone protruding from the wrapping," Johnson said.

Aikens declined to say what, if any, clothing or personal items were found on or around the remains.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the forensic anthropologists from the University of Tennessee are investigating along with the Sheriff's Office.

Dental impressions and bone fragments were taken from the body for comparison to similar information in national databases.

Johnson said an autopsy is expected to be conducted soon.

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1/23/12