ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is trying to determine the identity of human skeletal remains found northwest of Grand Rapids.
The partial remains were found in the woods along Kenowa Avenue north of 6 Mile Road in Alpine Township, near the Kent-Ottawa county border. Farmer Rick Klenk spotted them Sunday.
“It was a nice day so we were walking around and I happened to see something out there,” Klenk told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “It was on the south side of the stream, about I’ll say 100 yards, 150 yards off of Kenowa. … It was just laying on top of the ground.”
He thought at first the bones were fake, even after taking a closer look. But he called the sheriff’s office anyway.
Investigators quickly determined Klenk had found human remains.
“This isn’t like a grave or a burial or that they had been there so long they had settled into the ground,” sheriff’s office Sgt. Joel Roon said.
His department spent more than two days removing them and searching for other evidence. They were back in the area Tuesday afternoon, with teams searching through fields and wooded areas.
Authorities can’t say yet whether the remains are that of a man or woman, how old the person was, what caused the death or how long the remains have lain in the woods.
“There is sort of an operating theory that the remains have been there for a period of time. The window of time is rather wide,” Roon said. “I can say with relative certainty that several seasons have likely gone by.”
He added that searchers did not find any clothing, which he said could be significant.
The man who made the discovery wonders how he hadn’t spotted the remains earlier.
“We walk it all the time, I do, out there deer hunting and everything else,” Klenk said.
The partial remains are now at the Michigan State University anthroplogy department in East Lansing for examination. The sheriff’s department has reached out to other agencies to see if there are any missing people.
“This is a big deal, and somewhere out there is someone who cared about this individual and we want to make sure we pay it the proper attention,” Roon said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.
—24 Hour News 8’s Ken Kolker contributed to this report.