Sheriff’s Office confirms bones are from Native American
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office determined that the human remains unearthed in Montecito last week are Native American remains.
Landscaping crews uncovered bones while digging a trench for a residential construction project May 24 in the 800 block of Riven Rock Road.
On Thursday, the Coroner’s Bureau concluded that the remains are those of a Native American male of an unknown age. According to Raquel Zick, the Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson, the structure of the bones indicate the size of a smaller person, but still an adult and not a child.
The remains weren’t a complete skeleton. Rather, detectives discovered lots of fragmented pieces with most of the hands and feet missing.
“There weren’t big, giant identifiable pieces you could put all together, just because of the breakage,” Ms. Zick told the News-Press Friday.
The Sheriff’s PIO confirmed that the remains were not located on the property of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They were, however, dug up on the same street as the couple’s $14 million mansion.
Deputies, coroner’s detectives and forensics technicians photographed, collected and transported the remains to the Coroner’s Bureau for further examination, and the digging in the area was suspended until further notice.
In the preliminary investigation, detectives noted that the bones appeared to be from a non-recent death, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office, and they were yellowing in a state of decomposition and deterioration.
They also noted that the teeth were worn down in a manner that is consistent with a much rougher diet, similar to that of American Indians.
This past Thursday, Dr. Rick Snow, a forensic anthropology consultant at Santa Barbara’s Coroner’s Bureau, examined the remains and visited the residence where they were found to ensure there were no additional artifacts.
The detectives will be coordinating with the California Native American Heritage Commission to release the remains. The organization’s Environmental and Cultural Staff will designate which California tribe on its Most Likely Descendants list matches the bones that were discovered, and contact that tribe.
The tribe will then have 48 hours from the point at which they are granted access by the landowner of the property to where the remains were discovered to inspect the site and make recommendations or preferences for treatment to the landowner.
The landowner will then discuss and confer with the most likely descendants all reasonable options regarding their preferences for the remains’ treatment. These options include: the nondestructive removal and analysis of human remains and items associated with the remains; preservation of the human remains in place; relinquishment of the human remains to the most likely descendants for treatment; or other culturally appropriate treatment.