WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Human remains found last spring near the Wabash River have beenidentified.
The West Lafayette Police Department and the Tippecanoe Countycoroner said the remains have been identified as John Chandler, a56-year-old homeless man. Chandler's last known residence was inWheatfield, Indiana.
A human skull was found by mushroom hunters in April just southof the West Lafayette waste water treatment plant.
The coroner and police worked with a forensic anthropolgy teamfrom Indianapolis to help identify the remains.
Tippecanoe County Coroner Martin Avolt said an ID and a librarycard found in a backpack helped with the process of identifying56-year old John Chandler.
Another important piece of evidence found was a dentalplate.
"You could not get a lot of information from it initially, butwhen you looked at it under a microscope, you could see fourletters. That was a partial name. We got C,H, A, N off of it," saidAvolt.
The dental plate was an exact fit with the skull found in thewooded area.
Avolt said when the anthropologist pieced the skeletontogether, he noticed an abnormality.
"A couple of ribs showed some arthritic changes and they alsostill had some attachment to the vertebrae. That's not unusual fora person of this age. Knowing that, we went to St E hospital andpulled out an old medical record. We found a case file. We found anx-ray of this gentleman's back. We sent it to the anthropologist inIndianapolis and he was able to pull out some films there thatactually matched the vertebrae and ribs we had recovered from thescene," said Avolt.
This allowed the group to be certain of theiridentification.
Police said it is possible that Chandler had died over a yearbefore his body was located. The last time the West LafayettePolice Department had contact with Chandler was in April of 2007,while the remains were found in April of 2009.
"We don't know how this individual died," said Avolt. "We don'tknow when he died. But we have a feeling that he died at least asummer before we found him."
Avolt said there is no evidence of criminal activity.
"But soft tissues injures could have led to that. We just don'tknow," he added.
Avolt said the family knew early on that it was possible theremains belonged to Chandler.
"We told them we were satisfied in our own minds we knew who wewere dealing with, but we have to go through the processes todetermine and prove who this is."
Investigators say while this does solve one case, it provides noanswers in the December 2008 disappearance of Steve Lee Smith.
Police said Smith's roomate, Wesley Kelly, admitted to arguingwith Smith on the railroad bridge above the Wabash River. Kellytold police he hit Smith causing him to fall into the river.
Neither Smith nor his body has been found.
A Purdue football player was arrested for alcohol-related offenses over the weekend.
As temperatures drop, the use of homeless shelters go up.
The Attica Police Department is investigating after a 1-year-old Pit Bull is shot in her family's backyard.