FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (NEWS RELEASE) — Investigators are in the process of recovering human remains in the Kanawha Falls area near Gauley Bridge. Sheriff-Elect Mike Fridley and Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Harrah released the following information concerning this investigation:
Early yesterday afternoon an individual searching for arrowheads in the Kanawha Falls area across the Kanawha River from Glen Ferris discovered what appeared to be a human skull. When Sheriff’s Deputies and Investigators from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner arrived at the scene and began excavating and searching the site, they recovered numerous other bones, consistent with human origin and consistent with these bones being buried in a shallow grave under a large cliff overhang.
Due to the specialized techniques required in an investigation of this nature, investigators ended the search last night and have returned to the scene this morning.
“It is too early in the process to release much information at this time,” said Sheriff-Elect Mike Fridley. “We know the bones are human, and appear to have been buried in a shallow grave, as opposed to having been randomly scattered through animal depredation. The initial analysis of the bones indicates they have been buried for several years, but not longer than fifty years, ruling out the probability that this is an old Native American or Civil War grave site. Investigators are considering this as a homicide investigation at this time.”
Once the excavation of the grave site is completed, the remains will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for further analysis as to the identification of the victim and a determination of the cause and manner of death. “Investigators have recovered some teeth, and there is sufficient biological material to permit DNA analysis and comparison from the remains,” said Prosecuting Attorney Larry Harrah.
“If this is indeed determined to be a homicide, we will certainly continue with this investigation, no matter how old the remains may be,” added Fridley and Harrah in a joint statement. “When it comes to murder, there is no statute of limitations on the filing of criminal charges. We don’t forgive, we don’t forget and we never give up. We owe this to the victim and the victim’s family members.” Additional information concerning this investigation will be released as it becomes available.