11/25/07 — Skull found behind church

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Skull found behind church

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 25, 2007 2:02 AM

A worker found a human skull on Friday afternoon while clearing land owned by Goldsboro City Councilman Chuck Allen behind Fellowship Baptist Church, authorities say.

County sheriff's deputies and detectives were "knee deep in mud" on Friday night and Saturday morning as they dug up more pieces of the skeleton, Capt. Tom Effler said.

Pieces of bone were found as far as 150 feet away from the skull, Detective Robert Chunn said, in a ditch that separates the church parking lot from Allen's undeveloped property off Arrington Bridge Road.

Detectives and deputies used everything from their hands to machinery to excavate mud in and around a long stretch of the ditch, ending with a beaver dam near the last discovery of remains.

Effler and Sheriff Carey Winders said it was hard to tell how much of the skeleton turned up in the search, but said something that looked like a pelvis was found along with other bone fragments.

"We have not found it all, and we probably never will," Effler said as he prepared to leave the site on Saturday afternoon.

The skull was the first thing to appear as the worker cleared out the land on Friday before 3 p.m., authorities said.

"It was enough that you could recognize it as a human skull," Effler said.

But the bones found were not enough for detectives to tell if there had been foul play, the captain said.

"The doctor (medical examiner) would have to make that determination," Effler said. "We have no reason to suspect it's a homicide at this time, but we have no reason not to expect it's a homicide, either."

Medical examiners and other forensic experts were consulted for the proper protocol in unearthing the body, the captain said.

Police have no suspects or leads yet, and will not know how long the body has been there until a medical examiner completes the report.

"We don't know for sure, even, if the body was washed here," Effler said. "We've had a lot of flooding in this area."

The captain said the remains would be taken to Chapel Hill for examination by the state chief medical examiner on Monday.

Allen is not involved in the investigation in any way, authorities said.

In the meantime, the sheriff's office will wait for the medical examiner's report.

"We don't know how old this body is," Effler said. "It's not fresh, I can tell you that."