Investigation into unidentified skull continues

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Investigators are closer to determining whose skull was found on the East Side last month, but more work must be done, including finding the rest of the skeleton, before the investigation ends.

The skull was found about 1 p.m. Feb. 16 in a wooded area in the 2000 block of Vaughn Avenue in the city’s northeast section. A homeowner called police after his dog discovered the skull in the woods off Vaughn.

Dr. Joseph Ohr, Mahoning County deputy coroner, said investigators, using search dogs since the skull was found, have located lower leg bones, upper leg bones, right arm bones and a shoulder blade that appear to be from the same skeleton. The search for the rest of the body, however, continues.

“We have been out several times to try and locate the rest of the skeleton. To date we have found several bones, human and nonhuman, appearing to be from the same skeleton,” Dr. Ohr said. “As soon as the weather clears, we will try again with the cadaver dogs.”

Doctors have been able to determine some characteristics about the unidentified person. He said the person was a male between 25 and 50 years old of mixed African and European heritage.

“Now that we have that profile, we can begin to go through our missing persons’ list. With that profile, we can come up with a short list of about a half-dozen people from this area and begin to approach those families for dental records,” he said.

The teeth remaining in the skull, Dr. Ohr said, are well cared for and contain metal caps that indicate recent dental work. Those teeth, he said, likely can be matched to any recent dental records.

Police believe there is a strong possibility the skull is that of 26-year-old David Allen Jackson, who was reported missing. A kidnapping report was filed in early December. Jackson does fit each part of the profile.

Dr. Ohr said doctors cannot tell how long the person has been deceased because they have not been able to locate the site where the body lay in decomposition. Finding that site, he said, would provide critical details.

He added police will find it much easier to determine cause of death once it is determined who the person is. He said investigators can then meet the family and try to recapture the last moments of the person’s life.

“My sad advice for the community is that if you have a missing family member keep a copy of that person’s dental records with you marked ‘hope’ because even if it’s not your loved one this time, the next person we find could be,” Dr. Ohr said.

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