Skull found on Maxwelton Beach remains unidentified

The search for clues continues in an effort to determine the identity of an apparent homicide victim whose partial skull was found late last fall on Maxwelton Beach.

People have offered “good tips,” and have been turning in other found beach bones to the Island County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to help with the investigation, Detective Ed Wallace said Thursday.

Meanwhile, specially trained “cadaver dogs” from Snohomish County are expected next week to scour the area of the beach where the skull was found in an effort to locate more body parts, Wallace said.

He said most of the bones turned in so far appear to belong to animals, but one radius (partial limb bone) might possibly be human.

“Chances are it’s animal, too, but it’s close enough to take a look at,” Wallace said.

He said all the bones turned in so far were found on Maxwelton Beach.

The cranium, or top portion of the skull, was found near the surf line on Nov. 26 by two visitors from Mercer Island, who kept it in a garage until turning it in to Mercer Island police early this past month.

The skull was later turned over to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, which soon will send a portion of it for DNA testing, along with portions of any other human remains that may be recovered, Wallace said.

Meanwhile Dr. Kathy Taylor, a medical examiner forensic anthropologist, is continuing her investigation.

The skull was found rolling in the surf on Maxwelton Beach between Dave Mackie Park and Mill Beach Lane to the north.

Wallace said forensic evidence shows the skull to be that of a male 35 years or younger.

Two marks on the skull indicate the victim may have been struck with a sharp instrument such as an axe, hatchet or machete, and that death could have occurred as long as 10 years ago or longer, he said.

Wallace said officials are poring through cold cases, but have yet to come up with a likely match.

He said that the skull’s condition indicates that it didn’t spend significant time in the water, and that it most likely washed down the beach to the water line from the prior day’s high tide.

Wallace said it’s still unclear whether the entire body washed up on the beach undetected, or if a body was discarded in the area unnoticed and later picked up by the tide.

He said no current open missing-persons files appear to fit the circumstances.

Wallace said it’s believed the skull has no connection to the 10 detached feet that have washed up on beaches in British Columbia and Puget Sound in the past three and a half years, including a badly decomposed foot found this past August in Greenbank.


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