Human bones found at building site in Warren; remains sent to Bemidji for analysis
Construction workers unearthed bones of a human Tuesday morning at a Warren, Minn., home construction site, Marshall County Sheriff John Novacek said.
It appears the bones are those of an adult and have been in the ground 50 years or more based on preliminary examination, he said. More analysis will be done this week before anything certain is known.
The workers were installing tubing for a geothermal unit in the house on the northeast bank of the Snake River. The site is where a century-old house was bought out and moved after the 1997 flood.
The bones, which were found about 9 a.m. Tuesday, just as work began on the site, have been sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory in Bemidji for analysis. The bones will be sent to the state archaeological lab at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, Novacek said.
Novacek said a BCA agent told him that because there was already some leaching of minerals into the bones, it appears they have been there for at least 50 years, but the findings are not conclusive.
So far, it looks like the bones belonged to an adult who died decades ago, Novacek said. "We can't tell the gender yet. We are not looking at a young child or anything. They will wait for the archeologist to go from there. It could be some early settler who died and was buried off to the side."
About eight years ago, bones from an American Indian were found near Old Mill State Park, so that could be the case here, too, Novacek said.
Novacek has been with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office for 26 years and said he knows of no unsolved crimes dating back 50 years.
The ethnic origin of the bones might be known by Friday, he said. If they are American Indian, all work on the site will be halted until all remains are found and several Indian tribes contacted, he said.
The finding of the bones had everyone thinking of Veronica Safranski, who went missing after leaving a Halloween party Oct. 26, 1996, at Mick's Bar in Warren.
She left the bar that night with a man with a criminal history who investigators suspect had something to do with her disappearance.
Where the bones were found today "is only probably, as the crow flies, three blocks from the bar where she disappeared," Dale Ljunggren said.
And Warren isn't that far from Thief River Falls, where Gina Anderson last was seen Oct. 23, driving away from her home, never seen since. No evidence, including her car, has been found, investigators say.
The still-unsolved disappearances of Safranski and Anderson are the only ones he knows of that might be possible sources of the bones, although that doesn't sound likely after initial examination of the bones.
The bones were found in what once was the backyard of the house next to the one Gene, Dale and Leroy Ljunggren grew up in from the 1940s to the mid-1960s. Gene still lives in Warren. Dale, now in Texas, and Leroy, now in Washington, are home visiting and were interested in the find.
"When we were kids, I remember being back there playing all the time," Dale said. His aunt, and a series of families after that, lived in the house where the bones were found.
"My guess would be it was some kind of an Indian burial," Dale said. "Because I know we found (Indian) artifacts all over this area. When we were kids, we found arrowheads in the river."
The site where the bones were found was near a gash cut to the Snake River where a saw mill or flour mill used to stand, Dale said.
Leroy found a human skull while he was out trapping in the mid-1950s, about a mile northeast of the site, Dale said. Police were notified, and it was discovered that an old, forgotten cemetery had yielded the skull, which was reburied in a Warren cemetery in an unmarked spot, Dale said. It makes him wonder if bones from that cemetery could have washed into Warren from the Flood of 1997 or the floods of 2009, he said.