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RURAL LUDLOW — DNA extracted from skeletal remains found nearly four years ago in a river in northeast Champaign County does not match any missing persons, Sheriff Dan Walsh said Thursday.
Walsh said the human skull and tibia, which were discovered by a family canoeing in the Middle Fork River in early August 2013, likely were from the same person, as the DNA extracted from each is similar.
However, that person’s identity remains unknown.
“The DNA does not match any DNA in any database, in terms of missing people or suspects and things like that,” Walsh said.
Also unknown is the age of the bones, although officials at the lab where it was tested are calling them “historic” — perhaps those of a native American, Walsh said.
“My best guess is that it was a buried individual — that over the course of time, the river up there changed its course and at some point washed out a grave and (the bones) just happened to show up,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he now considers the investigation into the bones a closed case.
“We have no reason to believe it is related to a criminal matter whatsoever,” Walsh said.
Initially, the state police crime lab in Springfield was unable to extract DNA from the bones. The remains were subsequently sent in April 2015 to a private crime lab for further DNA analysis.
The area where the bones were found is commonly referred to as Dogtown, and Walsh said he was aware that the area has been rumored for years to be a dumping ground for bodies.
Police had searched around that area following the disappearance of then-20-year-old Paxton resident Jamie Harper, who went missing on today’s date in 2007.