Palm-sized piece of human skull found in Skykomish River

Facial X-rays could be one of few ways to connect it to a missing person.

GOLD BAR — Hold your hand to your forehead, above one eye.

That’s about the size of a piece of a human skull that washed ashore this month along the Skykomish River.

A fisherman spotted the cranial bone on a sandbar Dec. 10, at a bend in the Sky east of Gold Bar, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Investigators confirmed the bone is human. Now they’re trying to figure out who it belonged to, with very few clues to go on.

The bone was waterlogged, suggesting it was swept downstream when the river rose. It’s not clear if a forensic lab would be able to recover adequate DNA, or if the sample will be too degraded, said Jane Jorgensen, an investigator with the office.

No other bones were found nearby. A search turned up no other fragments and no teeth. So it’s impossible to try to compare it with dental records in a national database.

On Friday, investigators tried to compare the bone to facial X-rays of one local missing man. The two were consistent, but there wasn’t enough to call it a definitive match, Jorgensen said.

The medical examiner’s office is seeking more of the man’s medical records for further comparison.

For now, the unidentified person has been dubbed the Reiter Pit Doe, named for an off-road destination on the north side of the river.

The landmark had been referenced in an initial report.

However, the official location of the discovery was in the 43000 block of U.S. 2. That’s not especially close to the pit. It’s about a half-mile downstream from Zeke’s Drive In.

Tips can be directed to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office at 425-388-3845. And if you know someone who is missing in the area, call the agency that took that report, to ensure that they are still listed as missing.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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