Skeletal remains found in Alexandria could take months to identify


Police are investigating a human skeleton discovered in a boggy, wooded area near Franklin and Union streets by a local man on a Sunday morning stroll. 

The unidentified city resident was walking his dog near Fords Landing about 8 a.m. when they came across apparent human remains, including a skull, police said. 

Jody Donaldson, department spokesman, described the area as densely forested and swampy. Detectives were knee-deep in mud investigating the scene, he said.  

The departments crime scene investigators and detectives collected the remains with the assistance of a Fairfax County cadaver dog. 

Authorities arent speculating on the origins of the remains, but said there are no open missing persons cases locally. 

They have since been sent to the state medical examiners office for examination, police said. Authorities expect a wait of several months before they learn anything conclusive.

Nancy Bull, an administrator with the state office, said timelines vary from case to case. Forensic pathologists use DNA evidence, dental X-rays or surgical implants to identify the individual. Occasionally forensic anthropologists with an eye for marks of injury or a historical background are called in to assist, she said. 

It depends, it varies, she said. If they feel like they need investigative information from the police or if theyre waiting for DNA, that could take quite a long time. We try to be as expeditious as possible, but at the same time you want to be accurate and thorough.

In Alexandria, detectives with the criminal investigations section are handling the case. Anyone with more information is asked to contact authorities at 703-838-4444 or the Crime Solvers tip line at 703-838-4858.