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What Should I Do If I Find Human Bones?

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is establishing new protocol regarding the discovery of skeletal remains often found by hunters, hikers, construction crews, etc.  This is in conjunction with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (  The KCSO is the first law enforcement agency in Tennessee to establish partnerships with these agencies to issue the protocol, What Should I Do If I Find Human Bones?

Most often what is found is animal remains, but what should you do if you recognize the remains to be that of a person?  First and most important is that you do not disturb the site.  It’s possible that the bones are going to be spread over a large area.  Mark the spot either by GPS coordinates or by some type of recognizable marker.  Leave the area in the same path that you entered.  Using the same pathway ensures that a minimal amount of possible forensic evidence will not be disturbed. 

Next, you should immediately call 911.  Establish an easily identifiable location for officers to meet you,   and remain at that location until contact is made.  Give the officer all pertinent information concerning the location of the bones as well as your contact information in case authorities need to get additional information later.  It will be up to authorities to determine if the discovery is the basis for criminal investigation.    Understanding proper procedures upon discovering skeletal remains will avoid any hindrance to a criminal investigation. Human



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