After Hikers Found Human Remains, A Historical Forensic Murder Mystery Began

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Photo: Forensic Anthropologist Diane France
Forensic Anthropologist Diane France

A couple of years ago, hikers in Chaffee County made a disturbing discovery: human bones lying in a rocky ravine. Investigators recovered the remains and combed the area for clues. When they couldn't determine the cause of death, the bones and artifacts were shipped off to forensic anthropologist Diane France with the Human Identification Lab of Colorado.

France talked to Colorado Matters about how she put the pieces together to solve mysterious deaths. She's examined remains found in the wreckage of 9/11 and those belonging to the Romanov family. With the help of a belt buckle and scraps of leather found near the Chaffee body, France determined the death occurred in the mid- to late-1800s. The remains belonged to a teenage male who died from a head injury, possibly after falling from his horse.