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UNIDENTIFIED

Few clues found in skeleton case

Posted on May 10, 2021

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Signs mark rural Franklin County's Raynour community on N.C. 39 where workers found a still-unidentified skeleton off Mutt Winstead Road in 2005.

Troy Kay | Special to The Enterprise

Signs mark rural Franklin County's Raynour community on N.C. 39 where workers found a still-unidentified skeleton off Mutt Winstead Road in 2005.

Workers found a still-unidentified skeleton in 2005 near this entrance to a tree nursery on Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in rural Franklin County's Raynour community.

Troy Kay | Special to The Enterprise

Workers found a still-unidentified skeleton in 2005 near this entrance to a tree nursery on Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in rural Franklin County's Raynour community.

Signs mark rural Franklin County's Raynour community on N.C. 39 where workers found a still-unidentified skeleton off Mutt Winstead Road in 2005.

Troy Kay | Special to The Enterprise

Signs mark rural Franklin County's Raynour community on N.C. 39 where workers found a still-unidentified skeleton off Mutt Winstead Road in 2005.

Workers found a still-unidentified skeleton in 2005 near this entrance to a tree nursery on Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in rural Franklin County's Raynour community.

Troy Kay | Special to The Enterprise

Workers found a still-unidentified skeleton in 2005 near this entrance to a tree nursery on Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in rural Franklin County's Raynour community.

Workers found a still-unidentified skeleton in 2005 near this entrance to a tree nursery on Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in rural Franklin County's Raynour community.
Signs mark rural Franklin County's Raynour community on N.C. 39 where workers found a still-unidentified skeleton off Mutt Winstead Road in 2005.

Unidentified is a weekly series examining the more than 120 cases of unidentified human remains discovered in North Carolina. Reporter Lindell J. Kay produces each installment for The Enterprise of Spring Hope and other Restoration NewsMedia newspapers.

Click the hyperlinked text below to read previous installments:

Dozens of bodies found across NC remain mysteries

'Baby John Nash' killing remains unsolved

Drowning victim remains unknown

Man who stepped in front of train still unknown 

Body dumped on interstate remains mystery 

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

A migrant worker pruning trees at a commercial nursery in rural Franklin County on a hot fall afternoon 15 years ago went into the woods to relieve himself and stumbled over a skeleton.

Work crew members called their employer and soon authorities arrived to investigate, but few details have emerged in the years since the skeleton’s discovery off Mutt Winstead Road between Bunn and Louisburg in the Raynour community.

The skeleton belongs to a 40- to 50-year-old man descended from an indigenous tribe from Central or South America, according to an autopsy report signed by Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft.

Leg bones were still in a pair of size 30 tan Wrangler jeans, with the rest of the remains scattered by animals across a 20-square-foot area. Investigators gathered the bones into 11 paper bags and delivered them in a box to pathologists at the Office of the N.C. Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh.

Washed ashore, unearthed in shallow graves, stumbled upon in the woods, discovered in abandoned houses, killed on busy roads or located in rivers, ponds and along railroad tracks, more than 120 bodies remain unidentified in North Carolina. This is one of their stories.

There’s no evidence of injury, according to the autopsy; however, many causes of death such as strangulation are difficult to determine in skeleton cases. Bullets and blades that don’t cut bone leave little trace as well. Often, a body’s location in a secluded area points to a violent end.

“It’s apparent that the body was dumped,” then-Sheriff Jerry Jones told The Franklin Times in September 2005.

Plant growth around the skeleton indicates the remains had been at the dump site between six months to a year prior to discovery, according to the autopsy.

Possible clues include items found in a wallet in the decedent’s jeans pocket: a Bud Light bottle cap, a print advertisement for MasterCard and a 2005 card calendar from Mi Casa Mexican Store in Knightdale.

In life, the skeleton’s owner had straight black hair and stood 5 feet, 4 inches tall with an unknown weight and eye color.

A dental examination shows tooth No. 20 is a root only with the crown missing.

“The teeth show extensive wearing of the enamel, which is consistent with a diet high in poorly or unwashed fresh vegetables and grains with little to no processed food, which you would find in a less developed country,” Gaffney-Kraft noted in the autopsy report.

Fingerprints are not available because the hands weren’t recovered. DNA samples have been submitted, but the tests aren’t complete, according to information from the Doe Network, a volunteer-run international clearinghouse for unidentified and missing persons.

The skeleton is listed in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System under the number 6660. Anyone with information about the skeleton can call the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at 800-672-7042 or Team Cold Case at 252-406-6736. A monetary reward is available.

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