Bones may hold answers to Riverton mystery

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The bones were found 6 feet under and may have been underground for 50 or 100 years or more. (WPVI)

On Monday, Donna Fontana, a seasoned forensic anthropologist at the New Jersey State Police crime lab, scraped away decades of dirt from bones discovered in Riverton last month. That's where a crew digging a pool in a backyard on Bank Avenue unearthed human remains.

"I've got long bones, bones of the hips, I've got part of the cranium, ribs, I have quite a number of bones, it's just piecing them back together," Fontana said.

Fontana has been uncovering hundreds of bone fragments and pieces including a jaw bone with the teeth still intact. Digging up a skull and other parts raised some concerns initially, but authorities do not believe foul play was involved.

"We don't think it's any criminal activity. Our investigators are telling us these bones are fairly old so we don't expect this to be a criminal investigation at this time," Sgt. Jeff Flynn of the New Jersey State Police said.

"I will eventually determine their age and their sex and their ancestry of the remains. Also very important is to determine whether I have more than one person," Fontana said.

The work is slow and tedious. The bones were found 6 feet under and may have been underground for 50 or 100 years or more.

They're so fragile, white break points show how they were damaged during excavation.

"It's like a puzzle, so we've got a lot of little fragments," Fontana said.

Hopefully the pieces will reveal who or how many were buried in that backyard in Riverton.

Fontana says it could be months before she knows exactly what she has, but she says with time she'll figure it out.

Related Topics:
n.j. newsmysterious deathRiverton
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