Remains, possibly human, found in Detroit park

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Law enforcement officials look down in the hole Friday as they investigate the discovery of possible skeletal remains at Stoepel Park in Detroit.

Detroit — Detroit police said what appear to be human skeletal remains were discovered Friday morning in a field at a park on the city’s west side.

Sixth Precinct Commander Arnold Williams said police received a call about the discovery at Stoepel Park No. 2 about 10:30 a.m. The park is on West Chicago Road and Grandmont and adjacent to the Erma Henderson Academy, a pre-K-8 school in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

He said a construction crew that’s building a soccer field at the park found the remains under a manhole cover in the park and alerted police.

“From everything that we have now, they appear to be a partial pieces of human skull, bone material and possibly some clothing material as well,” Williams said. “But until the medical examiner takes possession of all those biological tissues and bones ... we can’t say for sure they’re human remains.”

Police said a forensic anthropologist will likely be used to piece the remains together.

He said the possible remains were found about 4 feet under the ground.

Williams also said it’s not clear how the remains got there or why they were in the sewer.

"Right now, we have absolutely no idea how the remains got there," he said. "We don't know if it's foul play.

"We still have to have the ME examine the remains, and it's going to take some time before that happens. Until then, we can't speculate too much on anything."

The commander said police summoned Detroit firefighters to the scene because they're trained to operate in confined spaces like a shaft under a manhole cover.

“They’ll make sure it’s structurally sound before the remains are removed,” Williams said.

Police routinely call firefighters in these kinds of cases, he added.

About 1:30 p.m., kids from the school were playing in a field a couple of hundred yards away, seemingly oblivious to the possible gruesome discovery and police tape around the scene.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the investigation is still in the early stages. 

"We're currently doing a dig over there but there's nothing further right now," he said Friday afternoon.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez