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Skeleton found in Vail a Caucasian male, coroner reports

July 3, 2014, 12:43 pm

The skeletal remains found on a Vail construction site last week appear to be male, according to the Eagle County Coroner’s Office.

The finding now shifts any focus of the investigation away from the only active missing-person case on file at the Vail Police Department: Julie Cunningham, a victim in 1975 of serial killer Ted Bundy.

While there are no male missing-person files in Vail, former Vail Police Detective Matt Lindvall pointed out last week that Vail was, and still is, a highly transient ski resort with many seasonal workers passing through town. Lindvall doubted it was Cunningham and speculated it could have been anyone from a Native American to an undocumented worker to a transient ski bum.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis, however, ruled out the skeleton belonging to a Native American.

Here’s the full press release issued on Thursday:

A preliminary examination of human skeletal remains found in Vail and Edwards last week have led investigators to presume the bones are from a Caucasian male. Approximately 70 percent of the skeletal structure has been recovered from a dirt collection site in Edwards, where the discovery of a skull last Thursday, June 26, triggered an investigation at a Lionshead construction project.

eagle county logoEagle County Coroner Kara Bettis says the presumptive determination is based on skeletal characteristics of the skull, pelvis and femoral head. The finding was made by a team consisting of Bettis, Dr. Melissa Connor, an archaeologist and associate professor of forensic science from Colorado Mesa University, and forensic pathologist Dr. Rob Kurtzman.

The dirt in Edwards originated from the excavation of a utility easement at the Lionshead Inn redevelopment site at 705 W. Lionshead Circle in Vail, where a femur bone was found following discovery of the skull. Additional remains were recovered in Edwards while investigators were following up on search areas identified by a team of recovery dogs.

Construction at the Lionshead Inn redevelopment project resumed Monday. According to records provided by the Town of Vail, utilities were originally installed at the site in 1967. Since then, numerous permits for work within the easement have been processed through the years.

Officials say the case remains an active investigation. Participating agencies include the Vail Police Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. K-9 teams from law enforcement agencies in Denver and Elbert, Garfield and Jefferson counties have assisted with site searches.

Investigators will continue their work to determine the age of the bones and positive identification, as well as cause and manner of death. The investigation is expected to take several weeks. A final search of the Edwards site is planned for after the holiday weekend.

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