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Funeral and burial to be held for unknown pioneer



June 18, 2018

On 03-29-16 at about 1:55PM Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were dispatched to the area of Chinaman’s Gulch in Chaffee County for a reported discovery of human remains. Chinaman’s Gulch is a two-track four-wheel drive road located on Forest Service Road 6043 approximately a half mile east of County Road 301 in Chaffee County.

Upon arrival, Deputies met with two men who had been in the area hunting for dear sheds. The two men then led deputies up a steep incline to the top of a large rock outcropping. At that location Deputies were shown the human remains which were found in a deep ravine between two large boulder outcroppings.

Over the next several days the Chaffee County Crime Scene Team, along with administration, Chaffee County Coroner’s Office, and detectives, staged a large-scale excavation of the site. After several days of around the clock work the team recovered a nearly complete set of human remains along with several artifacts found in the vicinity of the remains.

After recovery, the remains were immediately turned over to the Chaffee County Coroner’s Office and from there went to a forensic anthropologist for a review. A BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Archeologist had also been called into the site for assistance. At that time the case was being investigated by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office as a homicide.

Several months later the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and the Chaffee County Coroner’s Office received reports from the forensic Anthropologist explaining that the human remains belonged to a fifteen to eighteen-year-old male and dated back to the mid to late eighteen hundreds (pioneer). Damage to the cranium suggested that the teenage male died as a result of blunt force injuries. It is unknown if the injuries were caused by a fall or by something blunt used to strike the victim. Due to the age of the remains they were determined to no longer be forensically significant meaning any potential witness or suspect to a crime would also now be deceased.

In collaboration with Jeff Graff (Chaffee County Chief Deputy Coroner), Randy Amettis (Chaffee County Coroner) and Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze, we plan on an organized funeral and burial to lay the unknown pioneer to rest. In similar cases across the country “John or Jane Doe” remains may be kept in storage for long periods of time awaiting further evidence or an outcome. Because of the age of the remains and the almost certain likelihood that no witness to a criminal case is still alive we collaboratively decided to go this direction to finally lay this unknown teenage boy to rest. The funeral and burial, including a personalized grave stone and ceremony, will be of no cost to the tax paying community as it was all donated.

A grave side service will be held On Wednesday, June 27th at Fairview Cemetery in Salida at 10:00AM. The general public is welcome and encouraged to join us. Father Williams from St. Joseph’s Church in Salida will officiate.