Investigators are clearing an area where a human skull was found in West Manchester Twp. A team led by a forensic anthropologist will gather evidence at
Investigators are clearing an area where a human skull was found in West Manchester Twp. A team led by a forensic anthropologist will gather evidence at the site. (Bil Bowden)

UPDATE: Investigators are on the scene, cutting down trees and clearing debris in anticipation of the dig. The area where the skull was found is near the West Manchester Mall.


EARLIER:

A human skull found in a vacant area of West Manchester Township on Monday will be examined by a team of forensic investigators, according to York County Coroner Barry Bloss, who said the team was expected to arrive here from Erie late Tuesday morning.

"Some tree-cutters in the area discovered the skull," Bloss said, and called for police.

West Manchester Township Police responded and protected the scene until Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, a forensic anthropologist from Mercyhurst University, could be brought in, the coroner said.

"This guy is considered one of the very best in the field," Bloss said.

Vacant area: Police said the skull was found in an area near the intersection of Loucks and Haviland roads. Township police, the coroner's office and York County detectives will assist the forensic team on Tuesday.

Bloss said it's a vacant area.

Dirkmaat's team will sift through the area to look for more human bones and any other evidence. Bloss said it's best not to disturb the area until the experts are on scene.

"They like to be the ones to do the digging," he said.

At this point, Bloss said he and police have no idea if the skull is that of a man or a woman, how old the person was or how the person died.


Advertisement

What caused death? "It could be anything," he said -- a natural death, an accident, a suicide or foul play.

"Apparently some homeless people hang out in that area," the coroner said. "That's what I was told yesterday."

Bloss said it appears the skull has been there for some time, though he said it's hard to say exactly how long.

"We have no idea what all is there. We don't know how much we'll even find," Bloss said -- whether there is an entire skeleton or just the skull. "We won't know until they recover what's there. ... Hopefully the whole (skeleton) will be there, because that will tell us a lot."

Reading the bones: Bloss said Dirkmaat likely will take the remains back to his lab at Mercyhurst for examination. Forensic anthropologists can often determine gender, age and race from bones, but not always, according to the coroner.

"Sometimes the measurements don't always tell the whole story," Bloss said.

He said he doesn't yet know how long it might take to solve the mystery, especially if no other bones are found.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.