Human Jaw Bone Found - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Human Jaw Bone Found

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - A Benton County Corrections work crew found a human jaw bone in Columbia Park Monday morning. The bone was found in the Columbia River about 2 or 3 feet from shore near the Edison Street boat launch.

""it is the lower jaw, it still contained six teeth. We did some photographing of it. We cleaned it.  We brought it to our office, We took some photos of it," says Benton County Coroner John Hansens.

Hansens also sent the photos to a King County Anthropologist who says the bone is very old, and considered non-forensic.

"By non forensic we mean its from an older time period. So we're not worried about any recent crimes, or recent missing persons, she believes it is American Indian.  The teeth had some wear patterns vindictive of an adult.," says Hansens of the analysis.

The bones were found on federal property and turned over to the US Army Corps of Engineers out of Walla Walla .  Two archeologists arrived in Kennewick Monday to retrieve the remains from the Coroner.

"We need to make some determinations.  It is too early for us to speculate on age or origin," says archeologist with the Corps, Alice Roberts.

The  US Army Corps of Engineers is required to follow the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act., which is a lengthy, multi step process.

After the initial assessment of determining they are not connected to a crime or missing person, the next step is figuring out if they are indeed Native in origin. 

"They have contacts with the local tribes and they will be working with them to turn the item back over to the tribes as prescribed by the law," says Hansens.