Erie County forensic team finds additional bone
FRACKVILLE - An Erie County forensic anthropology team Saturday discovered an additional bone in an area of New Castle Township where numerous other skeletal remains were found two days before.
On Thursday, hikers found the remains in a wooded area to the east side of the northbound lanes of Route 61.
Although investigators have not identified the remains, they are not ruling out they could be those of Kevin Lucas, Gordon, who went missing on March 7, 2011.
The Forensic Search and Recovery Team of Mercyhurst University combed the area in the rain Saturday and were able to find an additional bone.
Under the direction of Heather M. Garvin, Ph.D, assistant professor of anthropology, forensic anthropology students took to the woods the same way the team did in November 2012, after a human tibia bone was found in a wooded area a short distance away.
State police criminal investigator Trooper John D. Powis of the Frackville station said the remains found Thursday were taken as evidence and will be sent for forensic analysis, whether it be dental records or DNA testing, and possible identification.
He said the state police are treating the finding of the remains as an "active death investigation."
Lucas' abandoned SUV was located on a pole line west of the southbound lanes of Route 61, about a half-mile from the discovery of the skeletal remains, on March 18, 2011.
As the missing person's investigation continued, a person walking a dog on a ridge on State Game Lands 326 on Nov. 2, 2011, found the human tibia.
Deputy Coroner Scott Clews said that location of the tibia bone is about ¾ of a mile east of where the skeletal remains were discovered.
He said the bone found Saturday will be turned over to the state police and be analyzed along with the other skeletal remains.
Following the 2011 discovery, Schuylkill County Coroner Dr. David Moylan said that DNA testing on the bone was compared to that of Lucas' father and confirmed the bone was that of Kevin Lucas.
Moylan said that although he had enough evidence to say Lucas was deceased, there were not enough of his remains to determine either a cause or manner of death.
Causes of death can include exposure to heat or cold, drowning and shooting, while manners of death are usually classified as accidental or homicide.
With little more information to go on about Lucas at that time, Moylan said he contacted Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D, Mercyhurst College, to try and gain some assistance in the case resulting in the first search.
After the skeletal remains were found, Moylan said he contacted Dirkmaat again Friday and the Forensic Search and Recovery Team was sent to the area.
Garvin said the team is available to law enforcement agencies and coroner's offices throughout the state as a tool to assist in investigations such as the remains found in New Castle Township.
In addition to looking for additional remains, Garvin said the team recorded GPS coordinates and will map out the location comparing it to where the SUV and tibia bone were located.