Experts weigh in on how investigators will identify skeletal remains found near White River


INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple agencies and labs are working together to identify the skeletal remains found in a secluded area along the White River just south of Downtown Wednesday evening.

This isn’t a basic death investigation there’s a process. It will begin with the investigators at the scene, an anthropologist, and a coroner who all play a significant role in the examination, of not only the scene but the bones. 

“The anthropologist and the coroner are going to take their angles on the case,” said IUPUI, Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Susan Walsh Ph.D.

An anthropologist says after the investigators process the scene the goal of the anthropologist is to build a biological profile to identify the person’s sex and age.

“One of our primary sites of analysis is the pelvic girdle the pelvis where there happens to be a lot of difference in shape between males and females,” said IUPUI, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Jeremy Wilson.

Police tell us the process of the investigation got off to a slow start. Investigators say the caller led them to this secluded area along the white river than can only be accessed by boat about a half a mile north.

“I certainly think we can learn a lot from the scene. And being able to understand whether the individual died there or if that was a secondary place where the individual was deposited after death,” said Wilson.

Preserving the crime scene is important when there is so much unknown which is why the coroner’s office was back at the scene on the water this afternoon. The coroner will play a role in DNA analysis with could include dental records.

“If can extract DNA or obtain DNA from breaking down a fragment of the bone then you’re able to generate a DNA profile to then use for genetic analysis,” said Walsh.

It is then left up to the coroner to make a positive ID and notify next of kin.

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