Human Skull Found On Missouri-Arkansas State Line

SEPTEMBER 29, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:00pm CDT

RED ONION, MO - Authorities were notified of the discovery around 1:00pm Wednesday afternoon. Craighead County investigators were first called to the scene near Red Onion, Missouri.  Red Onion is located along the Arkansas-Missouri state line, in an area where Craighead and Greene counties in Arkansas meet with Dunklin County, Missouri. However, a global positioning system indicated the skull was actually located in Dunklin County. Authorities from both states now begin their search to figure out the victim's identity.

"I never thought, never in my life I'd see a skeleton," said Paul Newcomb, a Monette man who found the skull.

Two rulers and a small divot in the dirt now mark where Newcomb found a human skull. The search for a beagle on a hunting trip lead him to the muddy area next to a tributary in the St. Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management area on the Arkansas-Missouri state line.

Newcomb added, "I tripped over something and I didn't really know what it was."

Paul Newcomb picked up the skull and showed two fisherman. That's when they encouraged him to call authorities.

"I put the skeleton head in the back of my truck, and went up to the police station in Monette," Newcomb explained.

The skull was processed by Craighead County Sheriff's Deputies and was placed in a protective container. It has been turned over to Dunklin County investigators.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann explained, "It appears to have been there for some time -- a few years would be my estimate."

Sheriff McCann said there are no unsolved crimes in Craighead County that match evidence found so far, and no cases fit in Dunklin County either. Sheriff Bob Holder said county and state investigators will collect additional evidence.

"It will be a tedious operation - trying to remove some of the dirt, being careful how we remove the dirt, trying to sift it out to see if we can come up with any other particles, bone fragments," said Sheriff Holder.

Investigators believe the person who died is a petite adult. There is a missing person case from six or seven years ago in Greene County that remains open. Sheriff Dan Langston will work alongside Missouri authorities to try to figure out if the skull matches that victim's DNA.

Paul Newcomb said, "I'm hoping to find out who the person is, anyways. I'm sure they'll come across... I'm sure they'll found out who it is."

Sheriff Bob Holder said investigators will likely remain at the scene until the entire area around where the skull was found has been searched.