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Sheriff updates on human skull discovery

“We personally don’t have any missing person reports that match that criteria.” That’s one of the primary points Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver takes from the forensic report recently completed on the human skull discovered last month in Franklin County.

A human skull was discovered and reported June 9 at Horseshoe Bend Campground in Vina by hikers exploring the area. The skull, which was mostly intact, was recovered by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office the next morning.

The FCSO worked with a university professor from Tennessee who is a forensic skeletal recovery and analysis specialist to try to identify the human remains. After the analysis, the skull was determined to be from a white male between 18-50 years old, with the time of death between two and seven years ago.

Oliver said that’s pretty vague, but it’s what authorities have to go on as of right now. Because the skull was discovered in a flood zone, it will be difficult to determine from where it might have washed into Franklin County, given the skull does not appear to be connected to any open Franklin County cases.

“(Investigators) have covered the area pretty well and have been unable to locate any other bones or other debris of any kind,” Oliver said. “It could have come from anywhere because that water comes a long stretch away. The area (where it was found) was on a ledge several feet above the water, and you could see where the water flooded that area at some point in time.”

Oliver said additional investigation is required to try to determine if foul play is suspected.

“Our point now is respecting the families, even though we don’t know who is involved, and trying to bring some closure to them,” Oliver added.

Oliver said the investigation will continue, but it will take time to pursue additional identification methods.

For now, the skull remains in possession of the forensic analyst, in case more analysis is required.

Oliver said family members from other areas who think the skull might belong to a person they reported missing should contact the local agency with which they first filed a missing person’s report.

Visit for updates to this developing story.