Backyard Bones Headed For Further Forensic Analysis

Mar 28, 2014

Earlier this week a Salt Lake City homeowner attempting to put in a backyard pond uncovered human remains. The Salt Lake City Police Department determined the bones were ancient. Now, specialists from the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts are investigating. The department’s Geoffrey Fattah explained.

“Our division’s role is to gather archaeological data of the remains, so we try to learn as much as we can about the site where the body was buried,” Fattah said. “That then is added to a growing body of archeological data which helps build a better understating of the prehistoric peoples that lived in this valley.”

Fattah said people have lived in the region for 10,000 years.

Once the remains found this week are extracted from the site, they will be further evaluated in a lab.                   

“After we are done evaluating the site we take the remains into custody, we take them to a lab and we conduct our forensics analysis of those remains to determine sex, possible age, how old the bones are and cultural affiliation,” Fattah said.

Fattah said contrary to other reports, the ancestry of the bones has not yet been determined.

Once the age and ancestry is known, information may be sent to the Utah Division of Indian Affairs and representatives from the state’s tribes can decide whether to claim the bones as descendants of their ancestors. The remains would be reinterred by the tribe.

Fattah said there are five to seven reports of human remains found each year in the state.