Unearthing a mystery: Skull found in Bethlehem yard
Landscaper initially thought garden discovery was an animal; police investigate.
By Pamela Lehman Of The Morning Call
From The Morning Call
October 11, 2006
Kathleen Kelly has often found bits of colored glass while digging in her lush garden in the heart of Bethlehem's historic downtown, but never anything like her landscaper unearthed Monday — a human skull.
The skull is largely intact with eye sockets, nasal passages and upper jaw. The landscaper found it behind the home at 415 N. New St. that Kelly shares with Gary Olson, a professor at Moravian College.
''I've never seen anything quite this interesting,'' she said Tuesday. ''I came home to find our backyard garden is surrounded by police tape and it's now become a crime scene.''
Police said an employee of Tall Timbers Nursery in South Whitehall Township was working in the garden on Monday when he found the skull. He thought the mud-caked item was the remains of an animal and set it aside.
On Tuesday, a nursery employee took a closer look at the item and thought it was a human skull and called police, said Trex Satkowski, one of the owners of Tall Timbers Nursery.
''Never, in my 20 years of landscaping, had I ever seen a human skull,'' Satkowski said. ''It was pretty freaky.''
Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek said the skull would be sent to an anthropologist for further investigation.
He said the skull had apparently undergone an autopsy because the top had been neatly sawed and removed. He declined to comment on whether the skull had any obvious wounds.
Police officials told Kelly the skull had been buried for a while because it lacked any odor of decomposition. They were unsure of its age.
Three other pieces of bone and numerous metal nails were also discovered in the garden, Satkowski said.
''We just really have no clue how it got there,'' he said.
Kelly said landscapers had been adding various plants and mulch to the garden over the past two days.
''Of course now, we have a backyard that's all dug up again,'' Kelly said. ''But, it's extraordinarily interesting to watch.
''How often do you get to see a crime scene unit in action?''