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Human remains found in Westmoreland, Fayette still not identified

| Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, 5:15 p.m.
Authorities investigate after human remains were found in Bullskin Township, Fayette County on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Authorities investigate after human remains were found in Bullskin Township, Fayette County on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Investigators in Westmoreland and Fayette counties are working to identify two sets of human remains found this week in unrelated incidents.

In Westmoreland County, a road crew found the body of a white female about 8:30 a.m. Monday on an embankment near the entrance to the Mirror Lake Campground in Fairfield Township.

An autopsy performed Tuesday revealed she had been dead for at least a week, said Deputy Coroner John Ackerman.

Cyril H. Wecht Pathology and Associates performed the autopsy, but the body had decomposed to the point that the woman was not immediately identifiable, according to Trooper Stephen Limani, a state police spokesman.

She was wearing black workout pants and a red shirt, police said.

The cause and manner of death are pending further investigation, Ackerman said.

Mirror Lake, just off Route 711 between New Florence and Ligonier, offers fishing and overnight camping.

Police urged anyone who saw anything unusual at the lake or may have information on the woman's death to call Trooper Joseph Lauricia at 724-832-3240.

In Bullskin Township, Fayette County, skeletal remains were discovered Monday in a wooded area near Bear Rocks Road, between Jeffrey and Forest Lake roads.

No information was immediately available about who discovered the remains, which Coroner Phillip. E. Reilly described as “mostly bones.”

“We have no report of any missing persons ... so we may have something that has been there a very long time,” he said.

Forensic anthropologist Dennis Dirkmaat and his team from Mercyhurst University in Erie arrived at the scene Tuesday afternoon to recover the remains, but it likely will be some time before definitive information about the person's identity or manner of death is known, Reilly said.

“There's a lot more work to do, so we're just marching along,” he said.

Investigators will use dental records to try to identify the remains, he said.

A section of Bear Rocks Road was blocked to traffic Tuesday and the wooded area where the bones were found was cordoned off.

State police in Uniontown are assisting but have not released any information.

Jacob Tierney and Paul Peirce are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Tierney at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @Soolseem. Reach Peirce at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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