Search prompted by Cheney skull discovery finds nothing

02/17/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 6:07 PM

After a woman’s partial skull was found on a Cheney farmstead, Sedgwick County sheriff’s investigators have searched for additional remains but didn’t find any, an official said Friday.

A search likely won’t resume unless it is triggered by new information, said sheriff’s Capt. Greg Pollock.

It’s not clear whether the woman was a homicide victim, and so far there has been no evidence that a crime occurred, Pollock said.

Still, the search has been systematic, involving about 65 people who sometimes had to get down on their hands and knees to look for evidence in a tree row and a field covered with dense vegetation.

The fact that the only remains is a partial skull makes it “extremely difficult” to identify the person, Pollock said.

Wichita State University anthropology staff have assisted investigators, and an expert has said the skull characteristics suggest that the woman was that of an African-American, 35 to 50 years old.

On Jan. 29, Cheney police went to the farmstead after potential buyers found the partial skull while walking over the grounds. The skull was partly buried in a tree row. It’s possible that an animal could have moved the skull to that spot, Pollock said.

The property had gone into foreclosure and has been vacant about a year.

Investigators think the skull could have ended up there within the past three years, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking people to recall if they saw anything around the area during that timeframe that could be relevant. Investigators have received a few phone calls, but “nothing substantial,” Pollock said. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s investigation unit, 316-660-5300, from 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers, 316-267-2111, or to Crime Stoppers by text message by calling crimes (264637) and entering tip217, followed by the message, or by going to the Crime Stoppers website at www.wichitasedgwickcountycrimestoppers.com.

Investigators got permission to search the house and other buildings on the property but found nothing of significance, Pollock said.

Last April, a partial skull, possibly an African-American female, age 16 to 23, was found about 8 miles south of Cheney, along a creek. But there doesn’t appear to be a link between the two sites, Pollock said. Because of the possible age involved with that partial skull, investigators have been checking run-away reports, Pollock said.

In that case and the latest, sheriff’s investigators are sharing their information with other law enforcement agencies through a national computer network.

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