Whitfield Co. girl's discovery confirmed to be a human skull - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Whitfield Co. girl's discovery confirmed to be a human skull

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) - We now know more about the skull a little girl found while playing in the yard in north Georgia.

The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office has been investigating for the last several days and can now confirm it is a human skull and has been there for years.

The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office gave the skull to a forensic anthropologist at UTC to examine. He determined it is a human skull that's decades old.

It's clear it had undergone an autopsy so it's not suspicious, which is the outcome the Stevens family was hoping for. The next obvious question is how did it end up in their yard?

Jeff Stevens says his 6-year-old daughter, Cherish, was playing in their yard, in the south end of Dalton, when she spotted the skull.

"Them little eyes, they don't miss nothing," Jeff Stevens said ,"I came and got a pry bar to stick under it and raise to see and it was just half of a skull when it popped out of the ground."

An experienced hunter, he says he knew it didn't belong to an animal.

"About 3/8 thick on the skull part," he said.

He turned it over to the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office who, through a forensic anthropologist, has determined he was right. It is a human skull.

"It had been sawed off, it wasn't broke. You can see the saw marks on it," Stevens said.

Investigators determined the saw marks are the result of an autopsy done decades ago. The sun had dried it out and leaves left marks, so they say it was likely dug up from a cemetery by an animal. The Stevens' family says their dog, Annie, is always digging around. and, their deed shows a cemetery next door, although it's just a field, no headstones.

"As far as not having headstones, a lot of people couldn't afford them or would mark it with a field stone or a big rock," Whitfield County genealogy enthusiast Paula Franklin said.

Cemeteries are Franklin's specialty. She says she's not surprised to hear about their discovery. She has record of a couple possible cemeteries in that area of Whitfield County that are listed without markers.

"If it's in a pine box, eventually that would've rotted into wood so it would be very easy for an animal to dig put the bones," she said.

Investigators also determined the skull is that of an African American, between the ages of 20 and 50. Franklin says there's a chance he/she could've been a slave.

"It just kills me. It's very sad to think that somebody's family member is not in their resting place," Franklin said.

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