Forensic Investigation; In this study jawbone with only a single tooth was plucked from a rock pool at a popular Australian beach. A painstaking search revealed another 400 fragments of human bones along the shoreline. But 18 months later, Australian investigators have been unable to uncover the identity of the beachside bones. Images of the charred remains are too sensitive to be publicly release.
Down the long hallways of Victoria’s institute of forensic medicine the bones have laid out and number, amid fears a killer may still be at large. Forensic experts have meticulously trawl through every Australian missing persons file, combed science books, and even contact the state’s crematoriums in the hope of finding a name.
The forensic investigation
Laboratory testing indicates the bones, find at Ricketts Point in Beaumaris south-east of Melbourne; so most likely belong to a female age no younger than 20; who died not long before her remains were found in January 2018. It’s too late to save John or Jane Doe; but for Detective Sergeant Maurie Ryan of the state’s missing person’s squad, it’s a case he cannot let rest.
Search and rescue members did a further search of the area; however they were unable to find any clues about how the bones came to be in the shallow pools. Detectives, considering the possibility the bone fragments has left by a love one, contact crematoriums across the city. But again, nothing.
That’s when the forensic investigation into the bones began. From what we received, we believe it to be about 25 to 30 per cent of the skeletal remains, Sergeant Ryan said. Months of testing was carry out by staff at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. They were able to establish that the bones were indeed human and likely to have belong to a petite woman measuring between 155 and 159 centimetres tall.
Unearthing more specific information that might reveal her identity however has prove difficult. The institute use specialist skills borne from the 2009 bushfires to investigate charred bone and even reach out to DNA specialists in the UK but the results have been limited. “This case was complex,” she said. “Because of the preservation, our conclusions about sex and ancestry always have to be taken with a slight grain of salt.
The highly fragmented
“The more you have of the puzzle the better the picture you have. In this case, not only was it highly fragment; but we’ve also seen the effects of fire at some point.” Blau said science was unable to tell at what stage the person’s body; which was burnt but investigators determine the person was quite petite and the remains were “deliberately placed”.
“Living in the bay area we know unfortunately people do get wash off the rocks; but these weren’t find in the rock pool as a result of tidal action, they look deliberately placed,” she said. Unfortunately without a bit more information from the public we’re at a bit of a loss. Detective Sergeant Ryan believes that given the location of the bones; so the changing tides, the remains were likely to have place in the rock pools a short time before they were found; so putting the time of death at between December 2017 and January 2018.
“We’re interest in speaking to anyone who has information about how the bones came to be in the rock pool, or who might have left them there and why,” he said. “We’d also like to speak to anyone who witness any suspicious activity in the area around the time the bones were discover. “There is definitely a story behind these bones and there will definitely be someone out there who can tell it to us.”