Remains found in Viola well are not human
A forensic pathologist with the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock determined Jan. 11 that bones recovered from a water well near Viola are not human remains, but the bones of an unidentified animal.
"I was so glad when I received word from the pathologist in Little Rock," said Lt. Bill Beach with the Arkansas State Police.
A group of bones wrapped in a tarp or small tent was discovered inside a well on Pickering Hall Road Jan. 7 by investigators from the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, the state police and the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Beach said a witness involved in an unrelated case told investigators he had seen bones inside the well.
Fulton County deputy Paul Martin said the bones were discovered wrapped in a Boy Scout tent inside the well. Other bones were floating in the water above the tent, he said.
Martin said the bones appeared to belong to a small animal, possibly a dog.
He said investigators spent approximately 10 hours searching the well and collecting evidence.
Martin said it took several hours to drain the 20-foot well.
Drug Task Force Administrator Danny Ramsey, a certified underwater crime scene investigator, spent four hours examining evidence inside the well.
Besides animal bones, investigators found pieces of metal cloth fragments and a possible a prosthetic limb.
"It was an exhaustive effort by the crime scene investigators," Beach said.
In the end, rumors that witnesses had seen a human body in the well proved to be untrue.
"With the caseload we've (Arkansas State Police) had over the last several months, it's definitely a relief that those bones are not human," Beach said. "I don't care what kind of animal they came from."
Beach and state police investigators are still investigating the unsolved murder of Rebekah Gould in Melbourne and the unsolved murder of David Stone in Wheeling.
Both murders occurred in September, but investigators do not believe the murders are related.