Human skull, bones found by Stratham NH homeowner while landscaping
STRATHAM – John Lamonday wasn’t sure what to think when he stuck his shovel in a pile of dirt to do a small landscaping project and see what looked like part of a human skull.
Lamonday, who lives at 25 Coach Road, initially said he did not know what he found. When he picked it up and held it in his hand, he said it was unmistakable.
“At first it looked like an old, dirty kickball,” said Lamonday. “Then I took it in my hand and immediately knew it was part of a skull, so I put it back and called the police.”
Two Stratham officers arrived at Lamonday’s home on May 12, followed by members of the State Police’s Serious Crimes Division, according to protocol, if unidentified remains were found on private property. Lamonday said forensic crews were on hand for most of the next day, getting away with a bag full of bone fragments.
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However, the remains have been tentatively classified as very old and given to state archaeologist Mark Doperalski of the New Hampshire Department of Historical Resources.
Doperalski said the top of the skull found was the most recognizable bone of the recovered remains. The results also include a piece of a “larger” unknown bone. He said the remainder of the 25 to 30 recovered bones were mostly fragments “the size of a thumbnail”.
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Doperalski said the bones for the time being most likely came from a European colonial homestead in the area that dates back more than a century. He said additional DNA testing might be needed, but DNA analysis may only provide up to 25% of the genetically identifying information.
What happens next?
Doperalski said the state would sign a contract with an archaeological laboratory to perform a forensic analysis of the bones. He said it could take up to a year to get the results. He did not speculate on a period the remains could have come from.
“The bones are in a pretty rough shape,” said Doperalski. “We’re probably not going to get a lot because there isn’t much to diagnose.”
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“It is most likely from an unmarked grave that was buried long before the country was divided (on Coach Road),” said Doperalski. “Unmarked graves are something no one wants to encounter. We tell people where to find remains. It is likely that there is more than one grave. That is why we told the owner if he should do more excavations, the chances of finding additional remains are very high. “
Lamonday said the remains will be reburied after forensic analysis. He said he told investigators they were welcome to continue digging on his property.
“It was really strange, you don’t expect the first thing you see after digging on your property to be a human skull,” Lamonday said. “It’s just unfortunate that the remains were disturbed at all.”