Mystery skull’s facial photos released

A facial reconstruction model of a human skull by the FBI in Quantico is shown. The skull was found in the George Washington National Forest almost five years ago. Courtesy photo

The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office has released facial reconstruction photos that investigators hope will help them learn more about a mysterious skull discovered in an isolated area almost five years ago.

Law enforcement officials have been trying to learn the cause and manner of death since hunters found the skull in the George Washington National Forest on the northern edge of Fort Valley.

Members of the FBI forensics laboratory in Quantico have been working on the facial reconstruction since around Jan. 1 in the hopes of advancing the investigation.

Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County’s Sheriff’s Office said the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which has legal custody of the skull, has also participated in the investigation.

Turkey hunters discovered the skull in April 2010. Nothing else was found nearby to indicate the skull’s origins. An anthropologist who examined it found no signs of traumatic injury.

“We did all the normal things at the time,” Proctor said. “We looked at missing persons, regionally and even nationally. The skull was examined. And, of course, we did a search of the area.”

Authorities concluded the skull was from a man of European descent who died between the ages of 30 and 45.

New information obtained last year has led authorities to conclude that the skull had been exposed to weather and other natural forces for no more than five years before its discovery. A tooth in the skull was also found to have dental fillings showing evidence of modern dentistry.

Proctor said he hoped the publication of the facial reconstruction photos will produce new information leading to its identification. Identifying the skull will allow authorities to notify family members of the deceased man and give them a chance for closure, Proctor said.

Anyone with information that could help identify the man is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 459-6100.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com