The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office believes that human bones found on Mt. Hood this week will match the skull that was discovered more than two months ago.
Detectives also suspect that the skeletal remains belong to the female victim of a homicide. But the task of identifying that victim could take months given the fact that more than 100 women have been reported missing in Oregon alone during the past two years.
“We’ve found nothing that helps us with identification and that’s what we need,” said Undersheriff Dwayne Troxel following Monday’s successful find of three bones.
A group of Boy Scouts from Multnomah County assisted in the grid search of the woods around Surveyor’s Ridge and the Dog River trailhead. Although a “cadaver dog” had been brought to the site shortly after the skull was found by an environmental group on June 1, the canine failed to turn up any new evidence. However, the scouts came across remains that officials could tell were human even though they had been badly chewed by animals.
“There is a dentist out there somewhere who can help identify this victim and we are going to treat it as a homicide until we can rule that possibility out,” said Detective Gerry Tiffany.
He said the skull has been sent to a state forensic lab to confirm the gender and pinpoint the age of the victim. Based on preliminary studies, he said scientists surmise that the skull had been in that location for less than one year and the deceased was an adult Caucasian female. Because her extensive dental work was done with cheaper materials, she is believed to have lived within a lower income bracket.
Tiffany said since both the upper and lower teeth were intact it should make the task of identification much easier. He has not been so fortunate in finding a match for weathered bones that were found on a rocky ridge above Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort on 2001.
Those remains were discovered by employees of the resort and are believed to have been in that location for more than five years. The skeletal frame of an adult male was wrapped in the remnant of a green leather jacket with a tattered fleece lining. Tiffany said after several unsuccessful attempts to identify the remains within Oregon he broadened the search and requested DNA testing. However, because of state budget constraints, he said that work has been put on a back burner but could eventually lead to a match with a missing man from the East Coast.
Tiffany has been in contact with the family of a lost hiker who made his last telephone call to them in 1999 just before setting off for a trek into the Mt. Hood wilderness.