Law enforcement is investigating what appears to be a gravesite near a construction zone northeast of Durango.
Construction workers found freshly placed flowers and a wooden cross with the dates 1934-2008 on it Aug. 22 in Edgemont Highlands subdivision, about five miles northeast of Durango, said Tonya Golbricht, investigator with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office enlisted the help of a cadaver-sniffing dog, which alerted to the area, indicating the presence of human remains, Golbricht said. The Sheriff’s Office used a metal detector over the area, which didn’t locate any hunks of metal, she said.
“I’m curious to find out if maybe somebody’s ashes are dispersed there,” Golbricht said.
It’s also possible someone performed a “green burial,” meaning a body was buried without a casket.
If human remains are buried on the lot, the property owner must decide what to do about it, she said. If remains have to be removed, the Sheriff’s Office will have to obtain a permit to exhume a body, she said.
The Sheriff’s Office is trying to locate anyone who knows anything about the site to better determine if human remains are buried there or if ashes were spread at the location, Golbricht said. If no one comes forward, the Sheriff’s Office may have to use ground-penetrating radar to determine if there’s an anomaly under the ground or if it’s more likely that ashes were spread there.
The construction company working in the area is canvasing the neighborhood asking residents if they know anything about the site. The grave is featured as the “Crime of the Week” in this week’s Durango-La Plata County Crimestoppers poster.
The site was found in brush growing on the vacant lot. The only reason it was spotted was because a fresh bouquet of flowers was placed next to the cross, and the colors caught someone’s eye, Golbricht said. The cross consists of two pieces of wood; the dates are written in what appear to be a Sharpie pen.
The dates would suggest the person lived to be 73 or 74 years old, ruling out the possibly of a family pet. But even that remains uncertain: Tortoises live many decades, Golbricht noted.
Anyone with information is asked to call Golbricht at 382-7019.