Sheriff: Autopsy on human remains could take weeks - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Sheriff: Autopsy on human remains could take weeks

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TARRANT COUNTY, TX (KCBD) -

Tarrant County is still trying to identify a partially-mummified skeleton found near the Big Spring airport. Sources close to the investigation say it could be missing Colorado City teen Hailey Dunn. 13-year-old Hailey was reported missing in December 2010.

Colorado City is in Mitchell County. The sheriff for Mitchell County, Patrick Toombs, was in Big Spring observing the removal of the body Wednesday. He says the autopsy could take nearly three weeks, but the gender of the remains could be determined within the next few days.

We asked the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, how extensive this autopsy will be.

Dr. Natarajan has worked on a similar case. He identified Peggy Merimon, whose remains were found in a field in Lubbock County. Her body had been there for many years.

Q: What parts of the body could still be intact if police are calling it a partially-mummified skeleton?

A: The idea of mummification is that there are areas of soft tissue, the skin and possible organs and tendons that actually form a change that are leathery in appearance. That's usually due to a drying and airic exposure to the environment.

Q: Sources tell us authorities found a piece of evidence at the crime scene that could link it to Hailey Dunn. What could they have found?

A: Things that we would want to be looking for are jewelry. The type of jewelry may have some inscriptions. There may be some medallions, necklaces, clothing.

Q: What is the identification and autopsy process like?

A: It is not easy and it would be helpful to know the age. If you have to, you can use DNA or dental. You may be able to use x-rays and do comparisons if the individual had some x-rays prior to their death. Then you can also determine the race or gender by examination of what available bones there are. If you have a skull or pelvic bone, that can help you in determining the age or gender.

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