Bones found at center site not human

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 1999

Natchez police thought they might have made a gruesome discovery Friday at the construction site of the new county juvenile justice center.

But bones found at the State Street site were determined not to be human remains, said Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff.

&uot;We’re not going to shut the site down,&uot; Huff said. &uot;We just wanted to be sure they weren’t human remains.&uot;

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Police investigators arrived at the site Friday morning on a tip that human remains may have been found.

Jerry Wallace, site supervisor for Harold West Contractors, said some bones had been discovered during excavation of the site, but they appeared to be soup or steak bones.

&uot;You just don’t sift through the dirt when you’re digging with heavy machinery,&uot; said Danny West, president of Harold West Contractors, Inc. in Laurel. &uot;If it had been a clear site with no bricks and concrete, things like bones would stand out more,&uot; West said. &uot;As it is, a lot of times small bones mixed in with concrete just don’t stand out.&uot;

A small group of city officials gathered at the site Friday morning, examining the location where the bones were found.

City Planner David Preziosi helped provide historical data of that section of State and Pearl streets to assist in determining why bones might be discovered on the site.

&uot;There was a kitchen located in that area,&uot; he said.

In 1886, a number of shops fronted State Street within the boundaries of the current construction site, he said. In the 1900s, he said there was not only a boarding house, but a grocery within the block.

&uot;Our protocol is to notify the Mississippi Department of Archives and History when we locate archaeological material,&uot; Preziosi said. &uot;Since this was determined not to be human remains, the Department of Archives and History asked that we just forward a copy of the complete pathology report when it’s complete.&uot;

Although West said there was no specific protocol for Harold West Contractors for locating bones at a construction site, &uot;if we saw something like a skull or a body, we would call the police.&uot;