Crime

Skeletal remains determined to be gunshot victim

Skeletal remains found at Duffy's Pond in Kennewick are of a man who was killed by a gunshot to the head, an autopsy showed.

Benton County Coroner John Hansens said he has not yet determined the manner of death -- the five options are homicide, suicide, accidental, natural and undetermined.

"I'm not willing to go down one of those roads quite yet," Hansens said.

The autopsy, performed Wednesday by Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, a forensic pathologist from Yakima, determined the remains belong to a white man who was older than 35 and was right-handed, Hansens said.

The man died in a "cool weather environment" sometime in the past 18-30 months, he said.

Photos of the remains also were viewed by Dr. Katherine Taylor, a forensic anthropologist with the state of Washington. Her conclusions were consistent with Reynolds' findings, Hansens said.

Hansens said the skull has an intact upper and lower jaw, which means dental records can be used to identify the remains once they have a possible identity to match it with.

DNA also can be used, but Hansens said that's a lengthy process that can take up to 19 months. If dental records are available, an identity can be determined within hours.

Knowing the unidentified man was shot in the head does not change the death investigation, said Kennewick police Detective Sgt. Randy Maynard.

Detectives have been reviewing missing-person reports from Tri-City agencies to try to find a match.

"We're waiting on confirmation of an identity," Maynard said.

The skeletal remains were found Monday by a survey crew mapping the water's edge around the pond south of Clover Island.

They found cowboy boots, leg bones, a coat and a partially buried skull, then called 911. The remains were down a 25-foot embankment on the water's edge.

Kennewick police and Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team investigators spent the day Tuesday collecting possible evidence from the site where the remains were found and recovering the bones.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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