Hammond police develop suspect leads in excavated human remains
By Mark Taylor Post-Tribune correspondent October 11, 2011 3:00PM
Hammond police Capt. Ezequiel Hinjosa rakes through dirt Tuesday Oct. 11, 2011, where human remains were found last week at the site of a razed abandoned building in north Hammond, Ind. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Missing People and Unidentified Human Remains
Almost 800,000 children under age 18 are reported missing annually, an average of 2,185 reported missing every day.
The unidentified remains of 4,400 people are found every year in the United States and more than 1,000 of those remain unidentified after one year.
There may be up to 40,000 human remains that are unidentified currently throughout the United States.
U.S. law enforcement authorities investigate as many as 100,000 active missing persons cases at a given time.
Information Sources: U.S. Justice Department/ National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:22PM
Hammond police have an idea who might be responsible for the human remains found last week in the rubble of a razed building, Chief Brian Miller said Tuesday.
“We’re looking at people who that person (the potential suspect) might have known who have gone missing,” said Miller, who declined to identify the person of interest. “At least now we have a clue.”
“We spoke to local people who knew the business and those that hung around there,” Miller told the Post-Tribune, referring to Great Lakes Bait and Tackle, 1718 Indianapolis Blvd. “That’s about all I can safely say.”
A team of Hammond police investigators on Tuesday searched the site again and found what they believe are the remaining bones.
“It was a good day,” Miller said. “We also think we found where the body was originally placed in a crawl space.”
Tuesday’s excavation was less scientific, though no less systematic, than the one led by forensic anthropologist Stephen Nawrocki of the University of Indianapolis on Oct. 7.
That search was triggered when a dog on Oct. 5 retrieved a human finger wearing a ring from the site in Hammond’s Robertsdale neighborhood. Minutes later the dog uncovered a human skull. The dog’s owners then called police.
Hammond Police Capt. Ezequiel Hinojosa, who is leading the investigation, said while Nawrocki believes that enough bones were recovered last week to make some conclusive findings, police wanted to go back for more.
Hammond police officers, including some top brass, used hoes and shovels to sift through the rubble, going several feet deeper than Nawrocki’s team did.
The backhoe operator manipulated the scooper almost surgically to dip gently into the rubble along a defined track. Once that area was scoured, the backhoe operator and police excavated the second half of the building site, dumping debris on the previously searched area.
Hinojosa said police didn’t expect to find the remains of more than the person found to date, but must eliminate that possibility.
“We’re going deeper to the undisturbed ground area to reassure ourselves that we’ve recovered everything possible from this site,” he said.
Hinojosa said his crew of detectives Lt. Tom Fulk and Sgt. Ken Stump and Hammond Crime Scene Unit Sgts. Jeff Rob Vaught and Allan Retske occasionally bagged evidence to send to Nawrocki’s lab.
Miller, who also worked the site Tuesday, last week said investigators suspect the bones belong to a female because of the feminine style and size of the ring and the size of the finger found.
Miller said from Nawrocki’s lab analysis police hope to learn the approximate age and gender of the person, as well as when and how that person died.
Nawrocki is expected to issue early results from the analysis within one month.