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Ancient skull found in North Kansas City by teens

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two metro high school students make a shocking discovery while on a nature walk after school. They found a human skull and a Kansas State anthropologist says it had been there for a long time -- it dates back to historic or pre-historic times.

The North Kansas City High School students were walking in a wooded area near North Kansas City Hospital after school Jan. 28 when they came across the skull and a tooth in the mud of a creek bed. When they called for help they say at first, no one believed them.

"I saw something in the water, in the mud by the water, and I picked it up thinking it was a turtle shell or bone or something," said North Kansas City High School Junior Heather Johnson. "My mom of course she didn't believe me at first," she said.

Johnson and her boyfriend, 15-year-old Hunter Collins, a freshman, say after telling hospital employees they called police.

Collins says he didn't know what to think when they found the bones, "kind of frightened, shocked, because you don't really see too many human skulls any place," he said.

Police say at first they treated the remains as a homicide investigation.

"I first got a call that there was human remains found -- so we responded to the scene just like we would any homicide investigation," said Major Kevin Freeman with the North Kansas City Police Department. He says finding bones let alone a skull is rare. "I can't think of any other time where we've found anything like that."

The Jackson County Medical Examiner's office gave the bones to Kansas State Anthropologist Dr. Michael Finnegan. In the report, Dr. Finnegan says the skull and tooth likely belong to an American Indian woman of an historic or prehistoric era. He says the tooth displays a wear pattern consistent with earlier American Indian populations.

Johnson says she still has one question. "I want to know where the rest of it is," she said.

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