Mystery looms day after skeletal discovery at airport

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tuesday night the mystery deepened over human remains, possibly decades old, uncovered at the Kansas City Downtown Airport on Monday night.

Was it foul play, or just natural causes and the passage of time? The case is now in the hands of a forensic anthropologist who faces the large task of determining who this person is, how they may have died and how they ended deep up in the ground beneath the downtown airport.

There are many possibilities and theories around town right now, including that the remains may have ties to the mob. Mounds of dirt, ripped up pavement and trenches, it was during a project on a taxiway at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport that construction workers unearthed human remains Monday.

With few details released from police, it's a discovery that has many guessing at the nature of the findings.

"Kansas City does come with a very rich organized crime history. A lot of folklore here. I think this plays right into that," said retired FBI Special Agent in Charge, Michael Tabman.

Tabman said there are many possibilities, possibilities Park University Biology Professor Brian Hoffman believes are more likely.

"Looking at the history of the Missouri River Valley, it would seem more likely to me that they run across someone who's died in the last couple hundred years and been buried in the river," Hoffman said.

Hoffman also said the forensic anthropologist now tasked with recreating the human form will be able to tell a lot from the bones.

"They will be able to give a rough estimate of the height, of the sex. Some indications as to what the body build was," he said.

Hoffman said the color of the bones will determine how long they've been in the elements, and any trauma to the bones could easily be detected. But while Hoffman believes the discovery will take us back hundreds of years into history, Tabman said sometimes the mystery of not knowing is more exciting.

"We can surely weight this as a homicide. You don't find bodies just being dug up in these areas without it being a homicide. So there is a mystique to this and I think it's going to be exciting to see what the investigation unravels," Tabman said.

The airport was built in the late 1920's. The concrete was laid by Pendergast's Ready Mix Concrete Company. So, while Hoffman said it could take weeks or even months for the police forensic anthropologist to recreate the human form and potentially solve the mystery of the remains, the theories on the remains may run wild.

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