Scientists to study chimney where bones were found

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2001

Forensic experts will visit Natchez today to study a chimney in which human remains were discovered last week. Dr. Ed Waldrip, an anthropologist with the Southern Institute for Forensic Science in Hattiesburg, and one of his colleagues from the University of Tennessee want to view the chimney at the River Boat Gift Shop, Under-the-Hill.

&uot;They are going to estimate a weight and height&uot; for the human remains, Adams County Coroner James Lee said. &uot;They want to see if that is conducive to the chimney.&uot;

A local mason renovating the second floor of the gift shop last Friday found a human skeleton stuck in the top of the chimney.

The remains have tentatively been identified as those of Calvin Wilson, who was 27 and lived at 280 Green Acres Road in Concordia Parish when he disappeared in 1985.

To confirm the identity of the remains, experts could not study dental records because the case is so old the records no longer exist, Lee said.

Instead they plan to compare the DNA of the remains to that of Wilson’s family in Concordia Parish.

Wilson’s sister, Karen Wilson, said she hopes this will help her family finally find some closure to the ordeal.

&uot;Sixteen years is a long time to worry,&uot; she said.

The forensic experts this weekend will also study the remains of a skeleton found behind International Paper’s Natchez mill in 1987. Originally, authorities thought those remains were Wilson’s.

Lee said the experts are studying both cases.

&uot;They are aware of the fact that we identified (Wilson) before in 1987,&uot; Lee said. &uot;They want to make sure this time everything is conclusive with Calvin Wilson.&uot;

Waldrip has some of the skeletal remains from both bodies in his laboratory in Hattiesburg for analysis, Lee said.

Experts studied the body found in 1987 by using a technique known as superimposition. It involves studying pictures of the victim &uot;but it’s not a positive identification technique,&uot; Lee said.

To use this process experts study the skull and &uot;make a determination from the photographs if this could be the same person.&uot;

DNA testing is a much more reliable but it will not answer the question of why Wilson was in the chimney in the first place.

Karen Wilson said her family has been hurt by comments saying her brother got stuck in the chimney while trying to break into the business.

&uot;My brother was very, very intelligent, and if he wanted to break in a building he could do it,&uot; Wilson said. &uot;He had more sense than to climb down a damn chimney to go in a building.&uot;

She thinks someone killed her brother, then placed him in the chimney.

&uot;I truly don’t (believe) he was alive when he entered that chimney,&uot; or someone would have heard him screaming, Wilson said. &uot;If I was in that chimney somebody would hear me.&uot;

But law enforcement officers disagree.

&uot;We have no reason to suspect foul play at all,&uot; said Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell.

And despite comments otherwise, Ferrell said experts never officially identified the body found in 1987 as that of Calvin Wilson.

&uot;We suspected that it possibly could be but he was never identified as Calvin Wilson,&uot; Ferrell said.

Lee said once the remains in the chimney are officially identified, he also wants to try to identify the remains found in 1987.

&uot;I’m going to do the best I can to find out whoever might have been missing during that time,&uot; Lee said.

But Ferrell said he thinks that job will be next to impossible.

The sheriff’s department does not have any missing person’s reports to compare to the body.

&uot;Until there is, there’s nothing we can do,&uot; Ferrell said.

To confirm Wilson’s as being the body found in the chimney, Lee said he plans to draw blood samples from the Wilson family next week.

The samples will eventually be sent out of state for analysis.

He estimates it will take several months for the results to be available.