The remains were uncovered Aug. 15 by a contractor replacing an old deck at a house in the 1300 block of West Teton Ave., Sgt. Joe Ramirez said Monday. The home was recently sold and the new owners were preparing to rent it out.
Nampa police hadn’t planned to announce the discovery yet, in large part because investigators are still confirming just what the worker found. Police are investigating the remains like they would a homicide and currently await the findings of a forensic anthropologist from outside of the department before they move forward.
“We are treating it that way because we have no clue” about the situation, Ramirez said. Following homicide practices and protocols ensures the department is prepared should the investigation lead to criminal charges.
Police believe the remains are human, and they appear to be small — “infant-like,” Ramirez said. The anthropologist has been asked to confirm if they are from a person, how old that person might have been and how long the body was under the deck.
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“I think the majority of the remains were there,” Ramirez said, adding that excavation around the area of the deck “recovered quite a bit.”
KIVI-TV, Channel 6, reports that the remains appear to include a skull and vertebrae.
The home in recent years was a rental with a different owner, but it also was vacant for a certain amount of time, potentially complicating the investigation. Police have “a pretty healthy list” of past tenants, Ramirez said. If the anthropologist is able to narrow down the age of the remains, investigators will then work out who they need to contact and what records to seek.
And there’s no guarantee a past tenant was involved, Ramirez said. If the body was placed under the deck while the home was vacant, it could have been put there by a completely unrelated third party.
That example illustrates the uncertainty Nampa police are operating under now. Are the remains from a murder? What about an abandoned baby, or one that was stillborn?
“We just don’t know that” and it’s too early to speculate, Ramirez said, noting that some within the police department have asked the same questions.
Ramirez announced the investigation in a press release Monday after someone familiar with it contacted local media. He said the department wanted to provide more context about the find.
“We don’t want to create panic, that you should be worried about your newborn babies,” he said.
For now, the home has been released back to its new owners, Ramirez said.
Investigators await the anthropologist’s findings. There’s no time frame as to when that phase the investigation will be complete.