Human remains found in Mich. house fire

Oct. 17, 2011 at 3:38 PM
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HIGHLAND PARK, Mich., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Highland Park, Mich., investigators are working to identify human remains discovered during a fire at an abandoned house.

Firefighters battling a blaze at the two-story abandoned house last month were cutting through the ceiling when human remains fell from the attic, The Detroit News reported Monday.

"When my partner and I went to the scene, we thought the bones were too small to be an adult," said Highland Park Detective Paul Thomas. "That was the impression we got but that's just speculation. We just don't know for sure and we won't until the tests are done."

Michigan State Police forensic investigators are trying to determine the age, sex and cause of death, Thomas said.

"A forensic dentist came in and got impressions of the teeth and skull, but the problem with that is, sometimes a person's dental records aren't in the system," Thomas said. "Sometimes, a missing person is put into the system and dental records are put in, but we checked, and that hasn't happened in this case."

A state forensic anthropologist is scheduled to review the bones, but until then, the age, race and cause of death will likely remain unknown, Thomas said.

Public records show the house was last occupied in 2004.

Anne Stanford, who lives close to the abandoned house, said the bones have likely been there for more than a year.

"I bought this house a year ago and I'm out in the backyard almost every day," she said. "If someone had died there recently, I'm sure I would have smelled it, since that place is so close. But I smelled nothing."

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