One possible El Niño effect: Rains unearthing more skeletal human remains

In a span of two days, starting on Halloween, hunters and hikers found three sets of skeletal remains off of forest trails.

A skull, a spine, a femur and a hand.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide Lt. Victor Lewandowski said he doesn’t know why there have been so many finds in and around the Angeles National Forest in such a short amount of time. But he said that with a rainy winter predicted due to El Niño, more human bones are likely to be found.

“I expect if we have, we may see an uptick in stuff that washes down the hill or is unearthed,” Lewandowski said. “It’s hard to say what is out in the hills.”

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He said there’s no indication the remains are related to each other. But Lewandowski added: “It’s getting everybody’s attention because they start going through their cases. ‘Do I have a missing persons, [or] a foul-play case?’”

The first find of the weekend was a skull, vertebrae and pelvic bone in an “extremely remote” area of Pine Canyon near the Upper Shake Campground in Lake Hughes, Lewandowski said.

The bones were found about 7 p.m. Saturday, but investigators didn’t go out to the scene until Sunday when it was daylight. There appeared to be some trauma to the remains but it’s too early to tell whether that was the result of an accident, like a fall, or a homicide, he said.

There were some clothes found with the skeleton, but they did not offer a clear clue as to the person’s gender.

The mandible was found with the skull so dental records may give detectives a lead, Lewandowsk said.

On Sunday afternoon, hikers found a hand near a remote hiking trail north of Tujunga. Hours later, a femur was found at the basin of a canyon in the 2800 block of Tanoble Drive in Altadena.

The coroner has not determined the time or cause of death for any of the remains or identified their respective sexes.

So far all the finds have led to separate investigations, Lewandowski said. But combine those with a skull that was found in mid-October off Glendora Ridge Road, and authorities acknowledge the string of finds is out of the ordinary.

Though they may be less out of the ordinary once the real rains come.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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UPDATE

10:58 a.m.: This article was updated with details of additional remains and an official comment.

This story was originally published at 7:11 a.m.

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