People hunting for shed horns to collect came upon a human skull near Paonia on April 23, Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor confirmed Friday.
A subsequent search of the area off Lone Cabin Road yielded a few more bones and a scrap of cloth, possibly a T-shirt, that investigators have not at present solidly linked to the remains.
The person’s sex and age have not been determined and there is not yet an estimate as to how long the bones might have been on the hillside where they were found. Taylor said the skull bore no readily apparent signs of trauma. Officials cannot at this time conclusively say whether foul play was involved.
“It is suspicious in nature, but we just don’t know any of the circumstances surrounding the site,” Taylor said.
“We’re hopeful that, through the pathologist and other professionals, that they may be able to give us a little more information as to whether the person was male or female, the age, and how long the bones may have been out there.
“We’re certainly looking for any information from surrounding counties that may have missing persons cases.”
He said the bones and their location do not appear to match information from known missing persons cases in Delta County.
The discovery was reported to the DCSO the afternoon of April 23. Deputies and investigators confirmed the skull, which was in plain sight on a hillside, was human. Taylor requested assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, because of that agency’s resources, which for this case, has included drone-based mapping of the discovery site.
“We haven’t had any solid information at this point, but as of today, we had a fairly large-scale search in the area for any more remaining bones or evidence around the scene,” Taylor said.
He said the hillside is accessible, but not readily so from the immediate area of where the skull was located.
“It’s unknown at this time if animals had moved any part, or been involved in the scattering of the bones. We just don’t know at this point. We’re trying to piece all that together,” Taylor said.
Anyone with information about the bones can call DCSO dispatch at 970-874-2015.