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Skeletal remains sent out for identification

| Tuesday, April 20, 2004

MOUNT PLEASANT -- Skeletal remains discovered in a field 200 yards from where Lindley Avenue dead-ends, have been sent to Mercyhurst College in Erie for identification.

Dennis Dirkmaat, a professor of forensic anthropology at Mercyhurst, will perform the identification.

Dirkmaat and several students removed the remains Friday.

Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha said that the remains will likely be identified through medical records.

He expects a preliminary identification by midweek.

"Examination of the skeleton will determine the person's size, age, sex, how long the remains were in the ground, and with the medical records, we'll be able to confirm more things," said Bacha.

"We went into this open minded," said Bacha. "We've got medical records, which point us in the general direction."

Bacha said that medical records belonging to Tim Shirey were sent to Erie with the remains.

Shirey, then 38, disappeared from the Mount Pleasant area Aug. 24, 2002, and has not been found.

Shirey is the foster brother of Phil Davis, who saw television coverage of the skeleton's discovery and called Bacha.

Davis said that a search by authorities immediately after Shirey's disappearance failed to find him.

The land where the remains were discovered lies near the border of Mount Pleasant and Mount Pleasant Township. It was cleared earlier this year by a brush hog, which distrubed the skeleton.

State police at Greensburg discovered a rifle near the skeleton.

"Was it used• We don't know," said Trooper Jeanne Martin, information officer for state police at Greensburg.

The skeleton is not complete. Some parts of the skull were missing.

Bacha said that his office is trying to locate Shirey's dental records, which will also aid in identification. He added that a forensic pathologist would likely be needed to determine cause of death.

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