Bones found buried in a wooded area off Route 27 near Manchester came from a large dog, not a human, state police said yesterday.
A homeowner digging fill dirt Sunday evening uncovered what to the untrained eye seemed to be the end of a human leg bone - and then found a work boot close by that seemed to have material inside, according to police. The area was immediately sealed off to await the availability of forensic experts, with the bone and the boot left as they were, protected by tarpaulins.
The investigation ended abruptly yesterday morning, said Maj. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.
Within 30 minutes, he said, the determination that the bone was not human had been made by a consultant to the state medical examiner's office, Dr. William C. Rodriguez III, chief deputy medical examiner, special investigations for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
"The doctor is so convinced that these are animal bones that there will not be a test conducted," Shipley said of the large bone and fragments. "He feels that they are bones from a dog.
"We're pleased that it was an animal, but until we had the advice of experts, we were taking every precaution," Shipley said. "Based on the information from the experts, we have stopped the investigation."
If the remains had been human, police planned to begin sifting for clues yesterday at the wooded site about three-quarters of a mile off the 2500 block of Route 27, southwest of Manchester.
"It's certainly a relief to us that an expert determined that these are animal remains and that they're not human," said Lt. Terry L. Katz, commander of the Westminster barracks. He said someone might have buried a pet in the woods years ago.
While animal remains often are found scattered in the woods, the discovery of the boot buried about 18 inches below the surface and close to the bone was worrisome, he said.
"If it was just bones in the woods, you might remove one and take it to the medical examiner. But that shoe - that just ratcheted it up. ... It appeared to us to be human remains," Katz said, adding, "I'll take this ending."