WARRENSBURG — Law enforcement officials here are seeking help from the public in identifying human remains discovered by students on a University of Central Missouri property on Tuesday.
Police were dispatched at 3:28 p.m. Tuesday when the body of an infant was discovered at Pertle Springs, a public recreational area owned by UCM in Warrensburg.
The remains were found by UCM biology students Eva Gann and Travis Lyon in the Pertle Springs Research Cave at Pertle Springs, which is located a few miles south of the campus.
“The Office of Public Safety was called to Pertle Springs to investigate a report that some students were out there doing research when they went into a cave and found something they thought looked suspicious,” said Jeff Murphy, assistant director of UCM Media Relations. “They reported it to UCM Public Safety and they arrived at the scene, and the Warrensburg Police Department assisted.”
The discovery was reported Tuesday, but Gann had also made a report to Public Safety on Feb. 17 regarding vandalism at the cave, according to the Muleskinner, UCM’s student newspaper (http://bit.ly/1q7T54K).
According to the UCM Incident Report, Gann reported to Public Safety at 4:53 p.m. Feb. 17 that “person(s) unknown had caused damage to the biology department’s research cave located at Pertle Springs by damaging the lock and burning a small fire inside the cave.” The report did not indicate if Public Safety investigated the area.
Gann and Lyon told the Muleskinner they noticed the lock had been broken on a door securing the cave and there was a trash bag inside filled with what they assumed at the time was burned trash. The students had not returned to the cave until Tuesday due to the weather, and upon returning the pair noticed a foul smell.
Upon further investigation they found what appeared to be human remains inside the trash bag and then notified authorities.
No further information has been made available from the university or law enforcement agencies, and Murphy noted that the gender of the infant has not been announced.
Murphy said UCM’s Office of Public Safety is taking the lead on the investigation but is working with the Warrensburg Police Department, and other agencies will be called in depending on how the investigation progresses.
“The reason we’re doing it, this is an incident that occurred on campus property,” Murphy said. “We will investigate it and if it turns out to be a lot of leads to follow that’s more than Public Safety and the Warrensburg Police Department can handle then we will call in the (Missouri) Rural Major Case Squad.”
Murphy urged anyone with information that could assist in this investigation to contact the UCM Office of Public Safety at 543-4123.