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Bones dug up by dog identified by SC coroner, but questions about woman’s death remain

Teresa Marlene Hatchell Sell was identified as the woman whose bones were found by a dog in a South Carolina yard.
Teresa Marlene Hatchell Sell was identified as the woman whose bones were found by a dog in a South Carolina yard. Oconee County Coroner's Office

A woman has been identified after her remains were dug up by a dog in a South Carolina yard, the Oconee County Coroner’s Office said Saturday.

DNA tests performed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division matched a person listed in an FBI database, Coroner Karl Addis said in a news release. That person was identified as Teresa Marlene Hatchell Sell, Addis said.

The 55-year-old was a former Easley resident who briefly lived with her sister in the Seneca area, according to the news release.

Although the bones — which included a femur, head and torso — have been identified as Sell, her death is still under investigation, Addis said.

The Seneca Police Department is asking for the community’s help to provide information on Sell. Anyone who knows where she might have been living or who she associated with is asked to call 864-973-3441.

Sell’s daughter was notified about her mother’s death, according to the release.

An autopsy was performed on June 27, and no cause of death was determined in the exam Addis called inconclusive, The State reported.

The coroner said his office is performing more forensic studies to determine Sell’s cause and manner of death.

While the head and torso are “in a state of advanced decomposition,” the coroner still believes Sell most likely died within the past few months, and no longer than a year ago, according to a news release.

The woman had no teeth, and it “appeared she has had no teeth for a while,” Addis said.

Additionally, the woman was wearing an athletic-type, multi-colored sports bra, which was from the “Be Inspired” brand of clothes, according to the news release.

The specific size and colors are not being released to the public, as those details might be helpful for investigators.

The search began June 17 after a homeowner’s dog unearthed a large bone in the yard of his Asbury Drive home, The State reported. The residence is less than 10 miles outside Clemson.

The bone was studied by a forensic pathologist and forensic anthropologist, who determined the right pelvic bone and right femur that were discovered belonged to a woman, the coroner said, according to The State.

Armed with this information, police launched a “large-scale search of the area,” which included cadaver dogs. Police said it spilled over to a nearby creek and more partial human remains were discovered, including a head and torso in a nearby tributary creek.

A coroner investigates deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, accidents, suicide, sudden unexpected deaths (without an attending physician), any suspicious or unusual circumstances, or when the decedent is unidentified. Here's a look.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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