Human Remains Found on Drought-Impacted Mississippi River Bank

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Sydney Swann/Getty Images)

Human bones were found by a woman looking for rocks along the drought-stricken Mississippi River recently. The remains include a lower jawbone, rib bones, and unidentified bone pieces, according to Coahoma County, Mississippi, Chief Medical Examiner Scotty Meredith, per CNN. The bones will be sent to the Mississippi state crime lab for further analysis. Investigators will attempt to retrieve DNA from the bones. From there, they will compare any findings with missing person cases.

Crystal Foster was in Clarksdale, Mississippi searching for rocks along the river bank when she spotted the bones. She told WMC that she and her family often go down to the river to look for rocks and such. With the water levels so low, she thought it was the perfect condition for a search. When she and her family recognized that the bones were human, they immediately called the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office.

“I just hope that the MBI (Mississippi Bureau of Investigation) works quickly on this case and is able to identify the victim to the dental records at the very least so that way their family can get closure because that would bring me some peace at least,” Foster said to WMC.

“We’ll know more about [the bones] once the anthropologist looks at it,” said Meredith, sharing that they don’t know much about the bones right now.

Dried-Out Mississippi River Reveals Human Bones, Island Rock, and 19th-Century Ship

Many strange things have been found in the depleted Mississippi River lately. The water levels are at record lows due to a relatively dry winter last year. Not much snowfall or rain means nothing was feeding the river. That resulted in the incredibly low water levels we’re seeing now.

Recently, though, the remains of a 19-century ship were revealed by the river. A Baton Rouge resident stumbled upon the wreckage of an entire ferry in a dried-up portion of the river. The ship was from 1896, called the Brookhill. It was built in Indiana, with a sister ferry called the Istrouma. Brookhill ferried people by night, while Istrouma ferried people during the day.

On September 29, 1915, both of the ferries sank when a storm rolled through the Mississippi River. The Brookhill was hit by logs only 100 yards from the ferry landing. With the current water levels in the river, 90% of Brookhill’s hull is exposed. Local archeologists are taking this for the opportunity that it is and studying Brookhill’s design.

“For the most part, there are not good documents on boat building,” said Chip McGimsey, a Mississippi state archaeologist, “especially once you get back into the area of wooden ships. They have a lot of individuality in these boats, and there are so few of them remaining. This is a rare example of one from around 1900.”