Mercer County bones case still unsolved

UPDATE @ 10:18 a.m. (Sept. 8):

The Ohio BCI was able to get a partial DNA sample that confirmed the victim was a male and the sample was loaded into a DNA index system, according to Sheriff Jeff Grey.

Results from the University of North Texas indicated that they were able to extract a full DNA profile from the bones.

Deputies have evidence that the victim was a victim of a homicide, Grey said.

This DNA is being used to hopefully identify a family that the deceased individual belongs to, according to Grey.

The sheriff’s office said so far a family match has not been found, however the office will be notified if a family is identified.

A message was broadcast to law enforcement agencies along U.S. 127 and U.S. 27 throughout the country to inform the sheriff’s office if they have any missing individuals, so investigators can determine if those individuals match the bones found near Grand Lake St. Marys.

Six people that were initially reported missing that matched the profile of the deceased individual have been ruled out as the victim.

Twenty eight tips have been received by the Sheriff’s Office and 12 of those are still be pursued, Grey said.

The Sheriff said no one has been reported missing in Mercer County or the surrounding counties that has not been located. Grey believes that the victim is not a local person.

UPDATE @ 5:40 a.m. (Sept. 8)

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to announce the findings from a University of North Texas examination of human bones recovered near Grand Lake St. Marys in January.

Grey said he will also address what the next steps are in the investigation during the conference.

In previous updates, investigators said the remains were limited down six missing person that fit the description of the remains from the National Missing and Unidentified Person System databases.

UPDATE @ 1:40 p.m. (April 13):

A set of human bones found in January near Grand Lake St. Marys have been narrowed down to six missing persons that match the description, said Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey in a release.

Grey said sheriff’s detectives searched the National Missing and Unidentified Person System databases for missing persons in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Grey said six people so far match the description of a male, between ages 20-35, who stands 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 1 inches tall, and has been missing between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.

“Ohio BCI tested a bone for DNA and were able to extract a partial DNA profile,” Grey said in the release. “This profile has been loaded into the Combined DNA Index System database. At this point, there have been no hits, but I stress this is a partial profile only.”

Additional bones are at the University of North Texas, but testing will take another four months.

“It is important to understand, even if we get DNA, if the DNA is not in a database, it will be difficult, if not impossible to identify the deceased,” Grey said. “Without an identity, this case will be nearly impossible to solve.”

UPDATE @ 2:12 p.m. (Jan. 15):

The bones recovered at the state park along U.S. 127 near Celina last week are believed to be of an adult male, according to Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey.

“We have evidence recovered that leads us to believe that foul play was involved,” Grey said during a press conference today.

Grey said the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office estimated the age of the male involved in this case is between 20-35 years old and possibly between 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-1.

A full skeleton was not recovered during the 2-day crime scene investigation last week, but investigators believe the bones recovered have been there for a year, Grey said.

“We have located somebody’s family member,” Grey said.

The victim’s bones have been transported to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab in London, Ohio, where investigators will work to extract DNA from the recovered bones.

Following BCI’s investigation the information found will be entered into a database before the victim’s bones are sent to the University of North Texas for further examination, Grey said.

After being examined in Texas, the data collected will be entered into the National Missing and Unidentified People database, Grey said.

Deputies believe there is one victim in this case and it is now being investigated as a homicide, Grey said.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy on the victim’s bones, however a cause and manner of death has not been determined.

UPDATE @ 10:29 a.m. (Jan. 14):

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is expected to release preliminary findings on the bones found at the state park along U.S. 127 near Celina tomorrow.

Sheriff Jeff Grey said he expects to release the details during a 2 p.m. press conference at the sheriff’s office on Friday.

UPDATE @ 3:53 p.m. (Jan. 7):

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said investigators have started to tear down the scene where bones were discovered along U.S. 127 near Celina.

“The investigators have determined at this point that we have collected everything that we feel may be of value to the investigation,” Grey said in a prepared statement.

The bones will be transported to a doctor Tuesday for examination and it’s uncertain how long that portion of the investigation will take.

UPDATE @ 10:53 a.m. (Jan. 7):

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said that additional bones were found Wednesday evening as part of the ongoing investigation. Those bones also appear to be human.

Grey said they’ve also recovered other articles, “material-type things that could be clothing.”

“We do get complaints of trash dumping in that area, so we haven’t determined what’s trash and what’s possibly part of a crime scene,” Grey said.

UPDATE @ 2:19 p.m.:

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey spoke at a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 6, after bones were recovered two miles south of Celina along U.S. 127.

He said there’s a high probability they are human bones. Investigators are still on the scene searching the area. Grey said the search, led by Bureau of Criminal Investigation, will last into Thursday.

“If it does turn out to be human bones, that’s someone’s family,” Grey said.

Grey said if they are human remains, DNA from the bones will be tested against the state and national databases. Grey said there are currently no missing persons in Mercer County.

Grey said a university and doctor, whose names aren’t being released yet, are helping with the determination of the bones. He said the university expert will be able to estimate a timeline on how long the bones have been out there.

“They weren’t all lying in one spot like a skeleton, but animals could come and move bones,” Grey said.

Grey said the remains were found by someone walking.

UPDATE @ 1:30 p.m.:

Authorities remain on the scene of an investigation after suspected bones were found along U.S. 127 near Celina.

According to our crews on the scene, it appears that investigators are searching the woods around a drainage area, where there is possibly standing water.

We are expecting to learn additional information on this investigation at a 2 p.m. press conference at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE @ 11:45 a.m.:

Investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office are on the scene of the investigation, where bones were reportedly discovered by a hiker this morning.

The scene is located approximately two miles south of Celina along U.S. 127..

UPDATE @ 11:39 a.m.:

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is expected to hold a press conference on the investigation at 2 p.m.


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is assisting in an investigation surrounding objects, reported to be bones, found at Grand Lake St. Marys.

According to ODNR, they were notified by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office that a hiker reported finding the suspected bones this morning.

It is not clear whether the suspected bones are animal or human, according to Eric Heis, spokesman for ODNR.

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigator in the case, according to Heis.

This story will be updated as information becomes available.