Expert gives insight on Elmore County skeletal remains

Posted at 10:32 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 18:41:32-04

Experts are starting to narrow down the age ranges of two sets of skeletal remains discovered outside Mountain Home earlier this month. As far as how long ago they were buried, it's still too soon to tell.

When authorities in Elmore County first got word of the discovery, they solicited help from Boise State University's Anthropology Department to help determine details about the remains such as how old they were and when they were buried.

Dr. Samantha Blatt, biological anthropologist and assistant professor at Boise State, is leading the charge on the lengthy process that's just begun.

"You don't want to be wrong, you want to get it right the first time," Dr. Blatt said. "That takes a lot of planning and tedious work to get there. Every single bone has several measurements so we measure absolutely everything."

While examining what materials were recovered, Dr. Blatt immediately knew there were too many bones to belong to just one child.

"As soon as I saw them, I already knew that it was not one, there was multiple of the same bone but different sizes and  also different maturity stages," Dr. Blatt explained.

Considering the bones were recovered in a badger hole, to no surprise some parts were missing. In this case, with bones belonging to more than one body, the inventory process takes longer- first, sifting out pieces of rock and branches, then identifying and measuring each fragment of bone.

"We literally use toothbrushes and wooden dowels," Dr. Blatt said. "We're careful to look at every single part of the surface."

Until the inventory process is complete, many questions remain but Dr. Blatt says the bones are telling when it comes to how old the individuals were at the time of their deaths.

One body appears to have been between four and six years old and the other between 16 and 20.

At this point no clothing or other materials have been found.

As soon as the inventory process is complete, Dr. Blatt will be sending off small bone samples in the next few days for carbon pulsing dating to provide more answers as to how long ago the individuals died.