Skull found on shore of Columbia

Last updated Monday, June 20th, 2005

By John Stang, Herald staff writer

As Will Thomas waded about 10 feet offshore, his foot hit something round.

"Hey, we have a human head," the Water Follies spectator joked to his buddy Dave Deacy, 19, of West Richland.

He thrust his hand about 1 1/2 feet underwater and grabbed what felt like a big rock.

Thomas, 21, of West Richland pulled it out.

It was round. It was brown.

"All of a sudden, I saw teeth," Thomas said.

It was a skull.

But Sunday's final hydro race would start soon.

So the pair stashed the skull in the bushes along the Columbia River's Benton County shore, upstream of the race course about a quarter-mile west of the Columbia Park Golf Course.

"We knew it was still going to be there," Thomas said.

After the race at about 5 p.m., the pair got some friends and a bucket and picked up the skull.

They found a Kennewick police officer and turned it over to him.

As the brownish skull sat upside down in the bucket, the base was covered with mud. Part of a jaw could be seen -- showing some apparently worn-down teeth.

Kennewick police officers and Benton County deputies took the pair by patrol boat back to the site.

They found some more bone fragments in the water and along the shore, said Kennewick Police Sgt. Craig Littrell.

"We're going to have to get in there and do some sifting," Littrell said.

That search will begin today, he said.

Columbia Basin Dive Rescue Team members went into the area Sunday evening to map it out for the police to tape it off as a possible crime scene.

So far, police have no idea of the age or origin of the skull.

It will be sent to the state crime lab to be analyzed, Littrell said.

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