Carter County

Anthropologists uncover new evidence where skeletal remains were found

Remains investigation

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - The investigation continues surrounding skeletal remains found off Gap Creek Road in Carter County last week, and specialists are here to help.

As of Tuesday, investigators told us the case is still being treated as a homicide, though the details, and whether or not it is a homicide, remain unknown. Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told us the name found in the wallet is Zane Baxter Gervin, II.

While that does help point crews in a direction and is the focus of this case, that doesn't necessarily mean the remains belong to that missing person, which is why anthropologists from Knoxville could go a long way in helping to crack this case. 

Underneath brush and dirt could be the answers investigators are hoping for.

Human skeletal remains found in Carter County last week are believed to be that of a 40 to 45 year old male, but at this point Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told us that's all that can be known for sure.

"Unfortunately in this case, the dental records have not been conclusive in identifying [the remains], which is going to prolong our investigation somewhat until we can make that positive identification," Sheriff Mathes told News 5.

Tuesday, three forensic anthropologists from the University of Tennessee were on site to literally help them dig up and sift through new information.

"[We are] trying to find every stitch of evidence, bone fragment, anything that we could put together to solve this case," added Mathes.

Last week investigators searched for every possible clue they could find on the ground, but with anthropologists on site they can look beneath the surface which might just include what's underneath a pile a leaves.

This crew is detailing a 100 yard stretch of land using metal detectors and other tools and strategies to uncover even the smallest of clues, like bone fragments, larvae, or soil samples to piece together a puzzle of information.

"We were up to 40 pieces of evidence in reference to this investigation so it's been good to that point," Mathes said.

While Mathes is leaving the details up to the specialists, he believes some could be significant in cracking this case.

"There's no video camera, there's no anything, and that's what we're all as investigators trying to do is put someone's last hours or minutes together," said Mathes.

Anthropologists will bring their evidence back to their labs in Knoxville for further testing, and help determine a positive identification and cause of death.

It could take several weeks for those results to be completed.

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