Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives and partner agencies are investigating the discovery of human remains at a construction site at the Toscana subdivision off Old Kings Road in Palm Coast, Sheriff Rick Staly said this afternoon.
Construction crews found what appeared to be a human bone Monday afternoon and alerted the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responded, and contact with anthropologists at the University of Central Florida was established, with photographs getting sent back and forth. The medical examiner also went to the scene.
“According to the medical examiner and according to UCF anthropology, it is human remains, human bones,” Staly said. But the search for more remains is still in its early stages, as is the investigation.
“We don’t know if this is a homicide, we don’t know if it’s a missing person that died, we don’t know if it’s a homeless person that died, it could be a suicide, we just don’t know,” the sheriff said, “so we’re not releasing any evidentiary information other than some human bones have been found.”
The remains themselves have not been sent to UCF, though the medical examiner took possession of some, and will eventually take possession of the full remains found. The analysis may continue either at UCF or at the University of Florida in coming days.
The original find took place about 1,000 feet from the nearest home. The area to the west of the find is built up with new residential homes, with a wood-line bordering the area. Solid woods are to the east. The area that was cleared in site preparation had been solid woods. A retention pond was built as part of the construction, with a lot of dirt getting moved because of the retention pond. So at this point, Staly said, it has not been determined whether the person died at the spot where the remains were found, or whether the remains were moved with dirt from the pond, for instance. The remains were not on the surface, but in the ground.
One thing is clear, however: while there is no information yet on how long the bones may have been there, this is not an archeological discovery. “It’s not like an Indian recovery burial ground or anything like that. It’s not a historical find,” Staly said.
The investigation began Monday afternoon, with detectives, the Crime Scene Investigations unit, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The sifting through the grounds is expected to continue for days, because it has to be done in piecemeal fashion–every shovelful of dirt has to be sifted carefully. The area under study is vast. Authorities are also looking for clothing or implements.
“As long as we can obtain DNA and this person is in a DNA database, we should be able to identify the individual,” Staly said. “Obviously we’d like to find some dental records, if we can find a skull that has teeth intact. We’d love to find that.” The investigation has narrowed down the age of the deceased, but is not releasing that information for now.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at (386) 313-4911. Or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 (TIPS). People with information leading to a resolution of the case may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
Toscana is a 200-home development north of the Hidden Lakes subdivision, covering some 233 acres. It is not adding homes, but adding an emergency exit for the development, a city official said.
In 2016, human remains were found on three occasions at three separate sites–in Hunter’s Ridge at the south end of the county, at Flagler Estates, the largely empty platted but never developed subdivision at the northwest end of the county, and near Varn Park, after Hurricane Matthew sheared off large portions of the shore’s dune structure. Today’s find appears to be the first such since then.