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Identity of remains a mystery to authorities for now

The skeletal remains of a man found by a hiker on Navy property in Greenbank may be a mystery to Island County investigators for a few more days, or for a lot longer.

On Monday, Navy police, Island County Sheriff's deputies and detectives, the Washington State Patrol and the county coroner spent the day in the woods above Lake Hancock near the Greenbank Farm collecting a nearly complete skeleton scattered through the underbrush.

According to Russ Lindner, chief criminal deputy for the sheriff's office, a man identified as a member of the Canadian military found the human remains late Sunday morning while hiking on holiday through the restricted Navy property. Though technically trespassing on the property, the hiker called authorities and alerted them to the presence of the remains.

Lindner said the hiker found the remains while lost on the complicated Lake Hancock trail system.

On Tuesday, coroner Robert Bishop said that it would be at least two more days before his office could identify the remains. Investigators thought at first that the bones might be those of Carl Jesberg, a Lagoon Point resident who disappeared in late 2000. Bishop said the remains were too old to be Jesberg's. A milk carton found near the remains showed a 1999 date, evidence Bishop said indicates a possible date of death.

Recovered along with the skeleton -- which Bishop said was spread over an area three times larger than that searched for Linda Moran's remains on South Whidbey in 2001 -- were some pieces of clothing. No forms of identification were found near the remains.

Bishop said his office needs to further examine the remains for identifying characteristics before trying to match them with missing persons reported from the pre-1999 time period. He noted that an initial examination of the bones show no obvious cause of death.

The sheriff's office is the lead investigating agency on the case.

Navy Special Agent Don Johnson said Tuesday the Navy will not charge the hiker who found the remains with trespassing.

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