It was a strange sight for the small town of Danby last February. A crew of Vermont State Police detectives scouring a stretch of road after a skull was found on an embankment.
But the search turned up nothing. "We weren't able to discover any other human bones. Take from that what you can, so that leads you to believe either animals brought the skull there or humans placed it there," said Vermont State Police Lt. Tim Oliver.
At the time of the search, police said the skull was spotted by a passerby who then called authorities. But that was only partially true. The person who spotted the skull thought at first that it was deer antlers. "He picked them up, saw it was probably a human skull and he did end up taking it home," Lt. Oliver said.
It wasn't until days later that the person decided to call police. Days where weather and animals could have changed the landscape where the skull was found, making the chances of finding more evidence in surrounding soil slim.
"It would have been better if we found it in place and then we could have done the excavating as is, but we don't have that luxury," Lt. Oliver said.
Police say they believe the person is telling the truth about where the skull was found, but due in part to the skull being moved, they have no idea how long it had been on Danby Hill Road. To them, it's still a complete mystery. "You don't know if it's been there for 10 years, 15 years, 5 days -- It's hard to determining that," Lt. Oliver said.
They also can't say for sure how long ago the woman died, but did say it probably happened some time ago -- years, maybe even decades. The skull was sent to the medical examiner for further testing to try and determine a timeline.
"Of all the things that we could recover, I would hope to recover a skull. So the amount of things that we can glean from a skull is extremely helpful versus maybe just a leg bone or something like that," said Lt. J.P. Sinclair, the Commander of the State Police Crime Scene Search Team.
Through CT scans and a dental examination, the skull was found to have features commonly associated with a young, white woman. Something not common -- the presence of trauma on the skull.
"We want the public to know that this wasn't just a discarded skull that's in pristine shape," Lt. Oliver said. "It appears something occurred. Could it have caused the death of this person? Absolutely."
A traumatic death of a woman just coming of age, but who is she? Police say the remains lacked one key piece of evidence needed to make a positive identification: DNA.
"You're dealing with skeletal remains. So there's not -- everything is very dry," Lt. Sinclair said.
With no hair, skin or saliva to test, police soon found themselves at a road block.
"Nobody feels good about having an open case of this nature. Someone's missing apparently, so we want to exhaust every single avenue we have to try to put closure to this case," Lt. Oliver said.
Police say the entire case hinges on making a positive identification through DNA. With unsuccessful results at their own labs, police have sent the skull to a specialized lab in Texas for further testing.
Tuesday we'll take a look at how this high tech mid west lab, might produce the missing link needed to bring some answers to this mysterious possible murder.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-03-10 02:43:23 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:56:33 GMT
Flags were flying on the Statehouse steps Sunday afternoon as more than 500 people gathered for the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally."Vermonters -- not just hunting Vermonters who happen to have firearms forMore >>
A trio of gun control measures may have gotten the green light from Burlington voters on Town Meeting Day, but the charter changes face strong opposition across the state, and a possible uphill battle at the Statehouse.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:43:32 GMT
Is the marketing behind Electronic Cigarettes aimed at kids?New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) says the industry's trendy packaging and flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy aren't foolingMore >>
Schumer is co-sponsoring a Senate bill that would ban e-cigarette marketing aimed at kids.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:42:02 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.Members of the so-called Senate Climate Action Task Force -- nearly two dozen in allMore >>
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:40 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:40:46 GMT
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.The owner of the home on Pike Drive called for help a little after 9:30 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived theyMore >>
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:38:52 GMT
Jazz fingers, dance moves -- and plenty of passion. The Urban Reach Dance Convention is giving aspiring dancers the chance to learn from some of the music industry's most acclaimed teachers, who have workedMore >>
Aspiring dancers hit the floor this weekend at the 8th annual Urban Reach Dance Convention.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-03-09 22:08:59 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
Sunday morning CCTA officials announced that after a marathon negotiation session they delivered a complete contract proposal to the union.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-03-09 18:52:05 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend. His office says the Governor was at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. He is expected toMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend.More >>