UPDATE 10/31, 2:30 P.M:  See the next installment of the story here.


UPDATE 2 P.M: Lt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office says that it is “too early for us to tell who this might be.  Tomorrow is the earliest we can get an anthropologist here…The anthropologist will do a body recovery…The remains will be taken to Chico….There an inventory of the bones will be done and a reconstruction….They usually examine the bones for any trauma or injury.  That can take weeks.”  He said that if there is flesh remaining then the whole process could take longer.


For years a local family has taken kayaks up the Eel River from their home near Piercy. “We have an area near where we live that we kayak to and go mushroom hunting,” explained the woman who prefers to remain anonymous. “For the last 3 or 4 years a sneaker was sticking out of the ground in the forest nearby where we go mushroom hunting. We joked that there was a body attached.  My daughter who is 8 now played by there.” But, they didn’t really believe that the sneaker was anything other than “river trash.”

However, yesterday, the man of the family and the daughter kayaked over and found not one but two sneakers exposed side by side with their toes sticking up.  The woman explained that this seemed more likely to contain a body and so the man decided to investigate. “[My husband] kind of pulled it out and there was a sock and he dumped it out and there were bones.”

The father and daughter immediately left the area, kayaked home, and called the woman.  Even though he had seen the bones, the woman said that her husband was still unsure about whether this was real.

So when the woman got home at dusk the parents headed back. To save time, they didn’t launch the boats. Instead, they waded through waist high water. “We crossed the river with our headlamps and a camera and dug up enough to determine there was a leg bone attached.”

The family didn’t want to call the Mendocino Sheriff on the flimsy fact they had found a pair of shoes.  They wanted to make sure they were not mistaken.  As the woman said, “I just knew I had to get a picture.  You want to be sure you are giving them accurate information.  My husband says he still can’t believe it.”

They waited until 7 A.M. to call law enforcement because “we knew there was nothing the police could do at night to recover skeletal remains across the river.”

A sheriff deputy and a detective are on the scene now. The woman explained that the two “have borrowed our kayaks” and gone to the scene.

The family who found the body a mere two days before Halloween is struggling to find balance.  On the one hand says the woman, “We have chickens and ducks and bunnies. They die. We’ve explored death in the last couple of the years.  Death—when you live on a farm, is part of life.”  This, she believes, has helped her daughter cope.  On the other hand, she says, “Last night, [our daughter] didn’t want to watch a scary Halloween movie.  She wanted to watch Glee.”  It didn’t seem the time for something frightening.

This morning, the woman says that when she awoke, “My eyes popped open and I just kept seeing the feet.”  Nonetheless, she doesn’t feel afraid of the area.  “[A]s freaky as finding a skeleton two days before Halloween is - we feel like there is some closure for his family possible here. If it were my son I would want that.”[See Halloween update here.]

If you believe you may have information about this story please contact the Mendocino Sheriff’s Dept at 707-234-2100 or you may contact me (mskymkemp@gmail.com .) Here is a link to a shoe that might be similar to the ones below.


Mendocino Sheriff’s Dept. Press Release:

On 10-30-2012 at 0659 hours the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a person wanting to report a suspicious situation.

The caller had located a shoe protruding from the earth near the shore of the Eel River in the 83000 block of Highway 271.  Upon closer examination the caller believed the shoe was attached to a human body.

A Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office patrol Sergeant and Sheriff’s Detective responded to the scene and located what the caller had reported.

During this time it was discovered that the shoe was associated with a shallow grave that contained the skeletal remains of a human body.

Sheriff’s Detectives have requested the assistance of the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Chico in recovering the remains from the grave.

Anyone with information in regards to this case is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100.