An unidentified human skull has been found in the contents of a storage unit, said Faye Banks, an investigator with the Muskogee county Sheriff’s Department.
Banks said the department first heard about the skull Monday.
“It was discovered Nov. 1,” she said. “I received a call from Sgt. David Dry at the Haskell Police Department saying a skull had been discovered in the contents of a delinquent storage unit.”
The storage unit that contained the skull was one of two in Tulsa rented by the same person. When the renter stopped making payments, the contents were turned over to an auction house in Haskell.
“What they usually do in these cases is open the storage unit, take a picture of the contents, then people bid on those contents at auction,” Banks said.
However, in this case, the auction company was startled to find the skull wrapped in a towel and tucked in a box, Banks said.
“At first they didn’t know what to do,” she said.
They called police and Banks drove to Haskell to the auction house.
“They told me they had nicknamed it ‘Joy,’ because they didn’t want it to just be called ‘Jane Doe,’” Banks said.
Banks said she believes the skull may be from a female. She based that on techniques she learned this summer at a course she took in processing evidence found at outdoor locations.
“We also think the skull may have been the subject of an autopsy at some time,” she said. “That’s because the top of the cranium has been cut all the way around.”
Banks said there is no clear evidence of foul play.
“There is an opening in the left front area between the teeth and the eye socket,” she said. “We don’t know whether or not it’s a bullet hole. If it is, it didn’t do much damage because it only goes into the sinus area and not into the part of the skull where the brain would have been.”
Banks said she has the name of the person who rented the storage unit and is tracking them down. She wants to know how they got the skull. She also plans to send the skull to the medical examiner in Tulsa for more analysis.
Recovering a human skull is unusual, Banks said.
“In 31 years of law enforcement, I haven’t found anything like that,” she said. “Usually people will call and tell us that they’ve found baby bones. It’s usually the remains of a deer or a dog. The doctors at Muskogee Bone and Joint are a good starting point.”
Banks said that since the skull originated at a storage unit in Tulsa, it will be turned over to Tulsa police if the medical examiner finds evidence of a crime.
“If they choose not to investigate it, I’ll do what I can,” she said.