DUNCAN — A Stephens County rancher was on his leased land working Tuesday near Mud Creek when he made a surprising discovery.
He found skeletal remains of a human and quickly called 911. Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney said when they arrived at the scene, which was no easy feat, they knew the bones had been there for some time.
“We think at least 50 years old,” he said Tuesday. That was based on some photos they sent to the medical examiner's office. But by Wednesday, McKinney realized they had something much more interesting.
“We were waiting on a forensic archaeologist team,” he said. That team, with an OU professor, arrived Wednesday and within hours, McKinney said early estimates determine the skull and bones to be anywhere from 800 to 1,000 years old.
“They are excavating and it will probably take some time. It's unbelievable,” he said.
McKinney said the bones were found in the northeast part of the county.
“Not too far from Velma or Duncan. They were in the middle of the section. We still don't know if it is a female or male. We knew they had been there for a while, there was a tree that had grown up through the middle. At first we thought it could have been an Indian burial plot.”
McKinney also said there was a possibility when they first arrived on scene that it was a cold case. With that in mind, he kept investigators on the scene overnight.
“It's way back in there, really hard to get to. It took a four-wheeler. We requested the forensic archaeologists.”
McKinney, who was sworn in Wednesday to serve his second four year term as sheriff, is familiar with having human remains found on rural land.
About May 14, 2011, another set of remains was found near Central High at Nine Mile Road between Plato and Camelback roads. The body was collected and turned over to the state medical examiner's office. McKinney said Wednesday, that about six months ago, he received word back the remains were identified as the missing person they suspected it to be.
“It was who we thought it was,” he said Wednesday. He identified that person as Richard Burton. At the time of discovery, McKinney expected the person to be identified through dental work.
“There are several Richard Burton's in the area.” This man's date of birth was Nov. 28, 1972.
“We have not been able to locate any next of kin on him,” he said.