August 2, 2014

Elyria
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Alas, the mystery skull probably is not poor Yorick

LORAIN — The human skull turned in to Lorain police on Monday appears to be of antique origin based on a preliminary examination, Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans said Friday.
“It’s not a fresh specimen, and it’s museum quality,” he said.
Chief Deputy Coroner Frank Miller, a pathologist, conducted an initial inspection of the skull Friday and determined that it had been treated with a lacquer to preserve the remains, Evans said.
Ron Sauer, curator for the Black River Historical Society, brought the brownish skull, wrapped in two blue plastic grocery bags, into the Lorain Police Department on Monday afternoon and handed it to an astonished Chief Cel Rivera.
The chief turned the skull over to Lorain police Detective Roger Watkins.
“It’s probably very old, like before our great-grandparents were around,” Watkins said.
Evans said his office plans to bring in an archaeologist to conduct further tests on the skull to see if more can be learned.
“They should be able to give us a better idea of how old it is and what race it is,” he said.
It’s unclear whether the specimen is from a Native America burial, as Sauer suspects, or whether it comes from another source. Evans said in the 1930s and 1940s medical students would be given skulls to take home to help them prepare for anatomy examinations, and many of those skulls may have ended up in relatives’ attics.
Sauer has said someone, whom he has declined to identify publicly, brought the skull to him earlier this month with the intention of selling it because he collects Native American relics. He said he told the would-be seller that trafficking in human remains was illegal and the person left the skull with him.
When an archaeological organization he contacted declined to take the skull, Sauer took it to police.
Evans said the skull didn’t have any head injuries that would have led to death and that, coupled with the apparent age, means the case isn’t being treated as a homicide investigation. Still, he said, he’d like to know more about where the skull came from.
“It’s not a murder case,” he said. “It’s more of an interesting case.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.