Skull Discovery Triggers Death Investigation

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, April 10 2013 at 4:01 PM, Updated: Wed, April 10 2013 at 4:09 PM

The discovery of a skull leads to an unusual death investigation in Klamath County...but police admit they're not likely to find a killer.

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah reports that the skull was discovered Monday...

"Quite frankly, we've already had five homicides in the last four months here.  Scared the daylights out of me - I thought, 'Oh, my gosh - here's number six."

Skrah notes that the skull was found by a woman cleaning out a mobile home...

"She reached up in there, came out with a box, and lo and behold, there's a human skull in there."

Skrah says a forensic specialist in Portland determined the skull is that of a Native American between 6 and 8 years of age, who died about 100 years ago...

"This person, it turns out to be a female, either died as a result of a violent accident, or death at the hands of another."

Sheriff Skrah says that while there will be no criminal investigation, the discovery of the artifact leaves him wondering what may have happened...

"There's something here that says 'whoa'.  I've got a couple of kids, so as a parent, you say 'jiminey Christmas' - I reach out and feel for that parent, even though it is 100 years old."

The skull has since been turned over to the Klamath Tribes to ensure the remains will be laid to rest properly, according to tribal tradition.

Unlawful possession of Native American remains, or cultural artifacts is a federal offense.  A conviction can lead to a year behind bars and a  $100,000 fine.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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