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Officials investigating human skull found in wooded area off Highway 299E

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BURNEY, Calif. - On Friday, July 21, at 4:30 p.m., a forester marking trees for salvage cutting for the Fruit Growers Supply Company found a human skull in a wooded area off Tamarack Road, approximately three miles south of Highway 299E in Burney.

Officials said the wooded area where the skull was found was not readily accessible by motor vehicle. Deputies from the Burney Station responded and conducted an initial investigation. The immediate area where the skull was located was checked for other remains however none were found.

Officials said the area was covered with ferns, leaves, pine needles and old brush but was accessible on foot. The skull had remnants of dried tissue still attached to bone, indicating the skull had not been exposed to the elements for an extended time. No indication of animal activity was readily apparent on the skull.

An exact time frame of how long the skull had been in the woods has yet to be determined. The skull was turned over to the Shasta County Coroner's Office for further examination and DNA testing.

Officials said the following week, Detectives from the Major Crimes Unit conducted follow up investigations in an attempt to determine the identity of the skull. Follow up consisted of checking missing person cases in Shasta County and neighboring counties; contacting other agencies for any possible persons of interest that may have fled from law enforcement in the general area, abandoned vehicles in the area and checking with local Native American Tribal members for any possible ritual burials in the area.

Additionally, records were cross checked regarding any reports received from law enforcement agencies outside the State of California, which indicated a missing person may have connections to the Shasta County area.

On July 27, 2017, members from the Shasta County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team conducted grid searches in the area where the skull was located in an attempt to locate a burial site, additional remains or other pieces of evidence.

The area searched was approximately a ¼ mile in radius. In addition to the grid search where the skull was located, Search and Rescue members checked nearby roads and turnouts but were unsuccessful at locating any further remains or items of interest to this investigation.

The Major Crimes Unit is considering the circumstances of this investigation as suspicious and is asking for the public's help. If anyone has information pertaining to this investigation, please contact the Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit at 530-245-6135 or at mcu@co.shasta.ca.us.

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