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Human jawbone, teeth found buried in sand at Bear Lake

Posted at 8:28 PM, Jul 27, 2023

BEAR LAKE, Idaho — A jawbone and teeth were among the human remains found Thursday morning on the shore of Bear Lake, officials have confirmed.

During a briefing Friday, the Bear Lake County Sheriff's Office said children digging sand castles discovered the remains in the area near North Beach Rentals along the northeast side of the lake. The children had dug down about two feet when the remains were uncovered, although it's not known if the remains were found at that level.

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Officials say they have no cold cases that might be linked to them or instances of unrecovered individuals that might have been tied to the discovery.

"I have reached out to Sheriff [Dale] Stacey with the Rich County Sheriff's Office on the Utah side, and they likewise don't have any cases like that. So right now, it's kind of a mystery as to who or when, or any of that information," said Bear Lake County Sheriff Bart Heslington.

The area of the shore where the remains were found is often underwater.

Bear Lake human remains site

Anthropologists from Idaho State University arrived at the lake Friday to further examine the remains.

Around 6 p.m. Friday, the sheriff's office announced that the forensic anthropologists had finished their work in the area. They "systematically excavated the site until they reached sterile soil," an update read. During the process, they found some more bones but only small fragments. It's not yet known if they are human.

The sheriff's office said the next step will be obtaining a "biological profile" of the individual to whom the remains belonged, such as age, sex and ethnicity. They hope to complete this analysis in two weeks.

In addition, they will examine the teeth for dental procedures in hopes of connecting the individual to any missing person cases.

"We will also be pursuing radiocarbon dating analysis in order to try and pinpoint the age of the mandible," the sheriff's office said.

Bear Lake human remains site

"The Bear Lake County Sheriff’s Office is receiving reports from various sources regarding possible persons that may be associated with these remains," Friday evening's announcement continued. "We will be actively investigating this information to determine if a relationship can be determined."