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Unified Police: Could be weeks, months before Deaf Smith Canyon bones identified

First Published      Last Updated Mar 21 2017 11:56 am

Deaf Smith Canyon » Remains have been turned over to Utah Medical Examiner’s Office.

It could be weeks, if not many months, before a name is put with the skeletal remains discovered over the weekend in Salt Lake County's Deaf Smith Canyon.

Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke said that little more than a skull and several other scattered bones, along with a scrap of camouflage-patterned cloth, were found by officers and forensic experts arrived Sunday afternoon at the scene — along Little Willow Creek in the canyon, which itself is wedged between Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.

Earlier, hikers had reported finding the bones about 40 yards off a trail skirting the border of U.S. Forest Service land and the city of Cottonwood Heights, near 8800 South and 3700 East. The bones were about 90 feet below a cliff but located on the opposite side of the creek from the canyon wall, so authorities could not be sure if a fall was involved in the death.

"At this point, we are just getting started," Lohrke said Monday. "We don't know the gender, or how long the bones were up there."

The remains have been turned over to the Utah Medical Examiner's Office, which will include checks of dental records and missing persons' reports in its inquiries.

If those efforts fail to produce an identification, samples of the bones would likely next be sent to the University of North Texas for DNA testing, Lohrke said.

It was not initially thought the remains could be those of 24-year-old Blake Richardson, missing since Dec. 10, 2016. In addition to the relatively short time since he disappeared, he last was believed to have been hiking in Millcreek Canyon, about 9 miles north of Deaf Smith Canyon.

Richardson's dog was found in Millcreek Canyon on Dec. 16, but no trace of Richardson has turned up.


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