Dorothy Heard's family sifts through her belongings, remains still not ID'd

Coroner: No positive ID yet, remains delivered to University of Indianapolis forensics team

An update from the Grant County Coroner’s office on Tuesday did not provide a positive ID on the human skeletal remains found near Marion last week.

Noblesville police discovered the remains after following a tip. Officers had searched the area several times before in the disappearance of Noblesville grandmother Dorothy Heard.

The remains were examined by Coroner Stephen Dorsey who had sent the “torso portion of the remains” to Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie to be examined by a Forensic Pathologist. The preliminary findings of that examination were “negative for a cause of death and negative for an indication of foul play.”

On Monday, Dorsey delivered the “torso” to the University of Indianapolis – Department of Archeology and Forensics for a further examination. Dorsey stated in a press release, the process could take up to “several weeks”, but would produce a gender, age, and an estimate of how long the remains have been exposed to nature.

Fox 59 asked former Marion County coroner John McGoff why it can take officials some time before producing a positive ID? McGoff said a coroner will usually use fingerprints, tattoos, or dental records to identify a body. However, deteriorated remains can prove to be quite the task.

“If the body has been out in perhaps a field or somewhere for a long period of time, it can make it very difficult," said McGoff.

He believes since the Grant County coroner is focused on the torso portion, the remains might be “in a pretty bad state of decomposition.”

McGoff added that the coroner might have to rely on DNA testing to find out who the remains belong to.

In the meantime, Heard’s family is still waiting to find out if the remains belong to their missing loved one.

Heard’s son Rex spoke to Fox 59 by phone Tuesday from his mother’s home. He said the family was sifting through and organizing her belongings. However, they are still searching.  The family put up fliers for Heard over the weekend.

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