Monday, July 13, 2015

10 Skeletons Found in Weird Places OR How Fat Woman Wrote an Article for a Blog and Got Rejected.

So I wrote an article for a blog and they rejected it.  (Kind of like in the title, except I feel forced to repeat myself.)  I hate to waste a nice little list, so here it is:

Talk about skeletons in the closet, so to speak.  A closet is about the only place that a skeleton isn’t located in this list, although the author was strongly tempted to Google it.  We often wonder how things happen, and sometimes we wonder how something ended up in an odd location.  Sometimes we even get answers.  When bones are discovered, it’s up to a detective or an investigator to figure out what happened.  This is complicated by the fact that when only bones are left it’s sometimes impossible to tell how the individual died.  It’s further convoluted by the fact that when the bones are discovered in a weird place, we’re left muttering, “What?”

10. Bones in IKEA Bags

Who knew that those big blue bags from IKEA are good for all kinds of objects?  There’s not a whole lot of mystery behind the discovery, but definite weirdness was involved.  Kicki Karlén, a woman in Sweden, discovered bags and bags of bones under a tarp in a Scandinavian church in 2014.  Apparently the Kläckeburga Church was refurbishing and repairing parts of its building years earlier and planned to re-inter the remains as soon as was possible.  They were estimated to be the remains of people buried at the church five hundred years earlier and the bones had been exhumed in order to renovate an area of the church.  Complications arose when the remains were not allowed to be removed from the immediate vicinity of the church by the church’s board.  However what happened was that they got moved into bags and forgotten. Consequently, they were discovered much later by Karlén in the iconic IKEA bags.  There was no comment from IKEA about the peculiar treatment of their storage bags.

Photo : Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

9.  Ancient Skeleton in an Underwater Cave
The scientists examining her remains named her “Naia” which is Greek for water nymph.  Nevertheless, there wasn’t any water there when the teenager went exploring in a cave in Mexico about 12,000 years ago.  The poor girl was looking for something unknown when she fell or was pushed into a chamber called “Hoyo Negro” or black hole.  She wasn’t the only one because the divers who explored the cave also found the skeletal remains of sloths, cave bears, and saber tooth tigers, as well.  One hopes they weren’t all in the cave at the same time.  The really interesting part about Naia is that scientists were able to take a look at her DNA and evaluate how she was related to other early Americans  Certainly being trapped in a hole was a bummer for Naia, but a boon to scientists in that they could compare her mitochondrial DNA (from her mother’s side) to the five other skeletal remains that are older than 12,000 years that exist today.  The indication is that early Americans did tromp over a land bridge from Asia into the Americans, but we still need to consider that evidence is scarce at this point.  We’re not sure if Naia would have been glad to help or not.

8. Skeletons in a Lake
Going to the lake takes a whole new meaning for some people.  2013 was the year for discovering skeletons in lakes.  The highway patrol of Oklahoma decided to try out some new sonar equipment that year.  They discovered some cars at the bottom of Foss Lake, Oklahoma.  This isn’t apparently unusual for cars to be found at the bottom of a lake, but when the two vehicles were pulled out, it was unusual to find the skeletal remains inside.  Six sets of remains were in a 1950s Chevy and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro (which seems like a waste of a classic muscle car to the author).  It turns out that three people went missing in 1970.  Jimmy Williams, 16, Leah Johnson, 18, and Michael Rios, 18, took off in a car, and vanished.  The disappearance of the three was well publicized and it was even theorized that the three ran away to start a new life.  However, it’s only a guess that they went to the lake instead and accidentally crashed into it.  The other vehicle is connected to the disappearance of three people from nearby Canute, Oklahoma. Their disappearance was far less publicized.  In 2014, DNA was used to identify one of the skeletons from the second Chevy as Clayburn Hammock.  The other two were tentatively identified as Nora Duncan and Alvie Porter.  The three went missing in 1969, just months before the three teenagers.  It certainly is ironic that both cars ended up just yards apart at the bottom of Foss Lake.  The six deaths were ruled accidental, possibly after the cars took a curve too quickly and ended up in the water.
7.  Another Lake Finally Gives up the Ghost, er, Skeleton
A couple named Russell and Blanch Warren vanished in 1929 near Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park in Washington State.  They left behind two children who died before the mystery was resolved.  Divers discovered the remains of their 1927 Chevrolet in about 170 feet of water. The couple were never seen again after Russell Warren picked up his wife, Blanch, from the nearby Port Angeles Hospital, and then picked up a new washing machine.  It was speculated that the driver of the vehicle missed a turn and went into the lake.  Searches were performed but found little.  Skip forward to 2002, when a Park Service Dive Team found the wreckage of the Chevy deep in the lake.  Two years later, a recreational diver named John Rawlings discovered some bones farther down a slope from the Warren’s car. The bones were identified as Russell Warren’s remains by DNA analysis.  Alas, Blanch’s remains were not located.  However, the Warren’s wreck site is a popular dive site for experienced divers and one never knows when a skeleton might tumble out of a proverbial closet, or lake as the case may be.
6. A Movie Spills the Bones, er, Beans
Poltergeist came out in 1982 and certainly was the kind of movie to make a person sleep with the lights on and the television off, if not out of the room.  The movie made a mint and soon enough a sequel was made.  Poltergeist II didn’t make the same kind of dough as the first one but it tried its best.  Rumors swirled about the first movie but it wasn’t until 2009 that one of the stars of both movies, Jo Beth Williams, revealed that the skeletons the props department used were real.  It turned out that it was cheaper to use real skeletons instead of fake ones.  The stars of the movie were so creeped out that Will Sampson, one of the actors in the movie, as well, did a blessing on the spot.  Apparently the Native American actor performed a sort of “exorcism” and there were no further problems.
5.  It’s Good to be the King, Until They Forget Where You’re Buried
One would think a former king of England would be hard to lose, but Richard III, who ruled from 1483 to 1485, went missing over the passage of time.  He might not have ruled for very long, but Shakespeare cemented the monarch’s shady reputation with the play of the same name.  One of his most major transgressions was that he stole the crown from one of his two royal nephews and then had the two boys murdered.  Of course, there’s a lot of debate about how bad Richard III really was or wasn’t.  In the meantime, he died in battle, the last English king to do so, and was buried.  Rumors abounded about whether he was really buried at Leicester at the church of the Gray Friars.  He might have been dug up and his bones thrown in a river or some other unsavory location.  Eventually a local university got curious and started digging.  After much research, the University of Leicester’s archeologists decided on a parking lot as a possible site.  When they found medieval windows and then bones, they’d struck archeological gold.  One of the skeletons had evidence of war wounds and scoliosis of the spine, which Richard III reputedly possessed.  Through a bunch more work with DNA analysis, it was confirmed that it was Richard III’s bones.  However, the extensive analysis of the DNA has revealed possible adultery in the descending lines.  The lines through the mitochondrial descendants is consistent.  (That’s the girl side.)  Matching up the boy side is a little trickier, but that’s a case for scientists to solve.  In the meantime, one never knows what we’ll find when we dig up a parking lot.
4.  Sometimes the Skeleton Can be in a Chimney
Not all the bones in this list were found in a lake, or even under a parking lot, or even human, for that matter.  In 2014, a man named David Martin in Bletchingly, Surrey, Great Britain was renovating his fireplace when he started finding bones.  The bones he discovered weren’t human, but that of a carrier pigeon.  Even more interesting was that he found a leg with a tiny red capsule attached to it.  Inside the red capsule was an encrypted message dating from WWII.  Thus far the code has not been decrypted, but the message came from a Sergeant Stott and was written 71 years ago.  It’s theorized that the bird got tired and landed on Martin’s chimney, only to die before completing its mission.  We don’t know what the message was, but odds are that it was something important.

3. It Wasn’t Really Santa, Was it?
Another renovation in Abbeville, Louisiana revealed something out of the ordinary.  In 2011, contractors were working on the second floor of the Abbeville National Bank when one removed a metal shield and discovered some bones lodged just above the flue of the chimney.  Police work and DNA revealed that the skeletal remains were that of a man named Joseph Schexnider, who vanished in 1984.  Schexnider had been a member of the National Guard and a part time worker in the circus when he disappeared. His bones were apparently stuck in the fireplace.  No trauma of the bones was identified, so the police there don’t really know why Schexnider ended up in the chimney.  Even Schexnider’s own mother didn’t know why he was there.  When her son disappeared in the eighties she assumed he had gone off as he had before.  Luckily for the police Schexnider happened to have a wallet, a lighter, a pair of gloves, and a watch with him giving them a heads up on identification.

2.  Skeleton in a Barn

Earlier this year, a LeFlore County, Oklahoma family found a skeleton in a rotting coffin in their barn.  Interestingly enough the skeleton is over a hundred years old, and may be linked to an “odd” organization, The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  The order is a fraternal one that concentrates on charitable works and still has membership to this date.  The previous owner of the property, Pete Butler, said that there were originally two sets.  The skeletons once belonged to the order and were used in initiation ceremonies.  He gained possession of them in the sixties and put them in the barn.  One got loaned out for a Halloween prank and never was returned.  The other remained in the barn until rediscovered by the Priddy family who had purchased the property.  The LeFlore County Sheriff’s Office is hunting down the second skeleton for burial.  Apparently, it’s not illegal to own a real skeleton, although it certainly can be considered “odd.”
1. Skeleton in a Scuba Suit
In 2007, a recreational diver was out for a deep diving jaunt in Commencement Bay, Washington when he came across another diver.  The problem was that the other diver was only a skull and bones inside a scuba suit.  The suit with skeleton inside was 200 feet down and complete with tank and weights for diving.  The diver reported the find to the police and an underwater robot was sent to retrieve the remains.  Despite having records of missing divers in the area, the local police have been thus far, unable to identify the poor individual.  Anyone missing a scuba diver?
Photograph by La Paz County Sheriff's Department
Honorable mention
A snorkeler first reported the two skeletons in lawn chairs in the Colorado River near Cienaga Springs, Arizona in May of 2015.  The La Paz County Sheriff’s Department and the Buckskin Fire Department sent a diver down with a video camera to see what he could see.  What he could see was that it was two plastic skeletons with sunglasses, sitting in lawn chairs, having an underwater picnic.  No murder scene and strange serial killer disposal site there.  Although somewhat disconcerting, the underwater picnic isn’t really illegal and the skeletons got to stay there.  No word has been forthcoming on the creator of the tableau.
And that's about all the bones a fat woman could dig up, folks.



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