FGCU professor assists in Naples human remains case
A spine, skull, ribs and teeth — those are some of the bones that can be key to identifying human remains.
Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Heather Walsh-Haney teaches forensic science and assists in nearly 100 human remains cases every year, including the case Monday in Naples, where two fishermen found bones near the Gordon River along U.S. 41.
“They don’t have a voice and that’s when we’re able to give a voice to those who don’t have one,” grad student Micki David said.
Injury, disease or general health can be seen in someone’s skeletal remains and can be matched with medical records to positively identify the victim.
“Typically they’ll have fillings and we can look for consistencies there, but it can also be as simple as you’re in a fender bender and you go to the doctor and they do a CT scan or x ray of your head or chest,” Walsh-Haney said.
Walsh-Haney said Florida’s environment makes finding and studying human remains quickly a necessary task.
“In Florida, with our sub tropical environment we can have skeletonized remains in about a week to 10 days,” Walsh-Haney said.
While Walsh-Haney couldn’t speak directly to the specific human remains case in Naples, she has assisted local law enforcement with many cases like it before.