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Human skull found in Claiborne County near state line | News

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Human skull found in Claiborne County near state line


(WBIR) Claiborne County authorities are investigating the discovery of a human skull near the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Kentucky state line.

Charles Sikes of Bell County and Marcus Cowan of Sevier County were looking for ginseng when they got lost in the woods on Wednesday night.

"My nephew here, he happened to see something white sticking up a distance away and we walked to it and it was somebody's human remains," Sikes said.

The pair did not have cell phone reception so they carried the skull back.

"I would rather somebody do something for me as I do for them, in that manner... That's somebody's family member. That's somebody out there that they don't know that's still missing," Sikes said.

Sikes and Cowan helped search crews on Thursday afternoon, taking authorities to the location where they found the skull.

It was found about 50-75 yards from the shoreline at Fern Lake; crews used boats to get there and search for more human remains.

It consisted of members of the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office, Middlesboro, Kentucky Police Department, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, National Park Service, Bell County Rescue Squad and Claiborne County Rescue Squad.

Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray said the remains may be tied to a woman from Kentucky who has been missing since 2009.

"Circumstantially, it's close to the last place she was seen and talked to. So we're a little optimistic about this being something we can identify," Sheriff Ray said.

Search crews returned to the command center before nightfall.

"You've got a lot of wildlife in that area--bear, coyotes, wild boar and poisonous snakes. So they don't need to be in there after dark," said Captain David Honeycutt with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office.

According to Honeycutt, search crews will return in the morning.

A University of Tennessee forensic anthropology team is looking at the skull to help with identification.


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