Nov. 29 update: The human remains were removed from the sand dune, what the sheriff’s office on Tuesday was describing as “a shallow grave” in a release. “The remains will be taken to the medical examiner’s office for analysis to determine the sex, age and cause of death. We do not know at this time how long this process will take,” the sheriff’s office said in the release. The office also issued a photograph of the operation. See below.
November 28–For the third time since August, authorities in Flagler County have been led to what they believe to be human remains in the 3800 block of North Oceanshore Boulevard north of Beverly Beach.
On Monday afternoon, sheriff’s deputies and fire rescue paramedics were alerted to remains found protruding from the face of eroded dunes about half a mile north of Varn Park in the unincorporated part of the county, along the beach. The bones appear to have been uncovered by Hurricane Matthew in October as it sheared off dunes along the coast several feet deep: what had once been dunes sloping down to the ocean turned into cliff-sides of sand. Erosion has continued since with unusually high tides.
“We are still in the early stages of this investigation and additional information will follow,” Jim Troiano, the sheriff’s office’s chief spokesman, said around 5 p.m. “This find does not appear related to the recent discovery of human remains located in the southern part of Flagler County last week.”
On Nov. 23, remains were found near Ashford Lake Drive in Hunter’s Ridge, at the southern edge of the county. And in August, remains were found at a construction site in the Hammock. None of the remains have been identified.
The remains found today consist so far of perhaps three bones, one of them clear of the sand, and two others appearing to jut out of the sand face of the cliffs. The sheriff’s office is at the scene, uncovering and investigating. The area where the bones were found is difficult to access except by a long march from Varn Park. It is closest to a three-story, newly constructed yellow house in that area.
Troiano is not revealing the extent of the find, but the sheriff’s office approach appears to be more involved than it was last week, when the find consisted of one body part, long bleached by the sun.
“It’s obviously they are human remains based on the Medical Examiner’s view of a photograph,” Troiano said from the scene. “The medical examiner is in route here now. This is going to be a very slow, methodical investigation.” He said other agencies, including possibly the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, will be assisting the sheriff’s office starting Tuesday.
“Due to the location of the remains we’re going to need assistance in excavating the ground to get to the bones. It’ll be evaluated tomorrow and the appropriate resources will be summoned to the scene to facilitate the recovery of the human remains,” Troiano said.
Authorities have not determined how long the bones have been there. “These are not recent human remains,” Troiano said, and because the excavation has not taken place, it’s too early to tell if there are other clues, such as clothes or personal effects, that are buried in the sand. “The bones,” he said, “are in the vines.”
A sheriff’s deputy will be monitoring the site tonight. Authorities are not concerned about tides, which are not expected to reach the site.
Troiano asks that if anyone has any information, heard information from a friend or a source about the case, contact the sheriff’s detective division at 386/313-4911. “If you have information, please let us know. It may be a hunch or just an opinion, but that could be the piece of the puzzle,” Troiano said.