Human remains found in mud flats of Tennessee River

Decatur, Alabama (AP) 12-07

Police said a forensic anthropologist will help determine the origin of human remains found in mud flats along the Tennessee River that could be related to a nearby American Indian burial ground.

Tom Wright of Decatur said he found the bones Nov. 19 while walking with his dog along the north bank of the river about 600 yards west of the burial ground.

Wright said several feet of water normally cover the area but drought conditions have lowered the river.

“The bones were on top of rocks and mussel shells on the river bottom, probably having washed up pretty recently,” he told The Decatur Daily in a story recently.

Wright didn’t believe the bones were those of an Indian, but rather suspected he had stumbled across the remains of some victim of an accident or foul play.

“From the ball socket down about eight inches, the thigh bone was broke clean on both legs,” he said. “I got to looking at more bones, and I found the lower jaw bone and the jaw bone still had teeth in it.”

None of the teeth had fillings and one was broken off in the jaw, according to Wright.

“It could be somebody on one of those barges got mashed up and fell off,” he said.

But Lt. Dennis Hughes said they weren’t treating the investigation as a homicide.

“They were old bones,” Hughes said. “They didn’t have any marrow in them or anything like that. With the water coming down, things like that surface.”