Bone Collector: demolition work leads to curious discoveries | New

MAYFIELD – Jonathan Riley has gone from just participating in the demolition of some downtown buildings to that of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes with some of the discoveries he has made.

Recently demolishing buildings along Mayfield Court Square at 105 S. 7th St. and 110 and 112 W. Broadway, which had been damaged and partially collapsed after a powerful 2019 storm, Riley had fallen on a hairpin. Salvation Army sticks from 1919 as one of his unique finds, but most notably had discovered a treasure of teeth and bones in the rubble and walls.

He thought he had found around 200 teeth and five other bones at the site. Riley admitted he wasn’t surprised to find some interesting discoveries sifting through the debris, although the bones and teeth weren’t what he expected.

“I expected to find something. I expected to find something cool like this pin, ”said Riley. “He was in near perfect condition.

“The bones? It was a little creepy,” he added.

Riley turned his first find over to Mayfield Police for investigation. Police Chief Nathan Kent said an email from Det. Lt. Mark Watkins said the bone was examined by Graves County Coroner Brad Jones and a local dentist and both did not believe it was human.

Watkins told Kent that some dentists also became vets around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Riley also said he spoke to local historian and former Graves County Sheriff John Davis and learned there was a dentist practicing on the west side of Courthouse Square at the time. .

Riley said he believed the structure was built around the 1860s. Watkins added in his email to Kent that Mayfield Police had previously been called to the same site during a refurbishment when teeth had gone. were discovered and came to a similar conclusion.

Jones, the chief added, was due to send photos of the bone to the state’s medical examiner last week.

Ben Crawford, who has an equipment rental business and who had rented some of the equipment Riley used in his demolition work, said the story was a bit fantastic when he heard it for the first time while working on a repair at the construction site.

“I’m sitting there fixing my machine and he said, ‘You know, I found some bones in this building,’ Crawford recalls. ‘I’m like,’ Well, that’s interesting. ‘ I guess the bones could be from anything.

Sensing some skepticism, Riley set off in search of a bone or two and, within a few minutes, produced a brick with a slice of bone about an inch thick in the mortar.






Pictured here is a canine tooth that Jonathan Riley found on a construction site he is working to demolish. He said he found more than 200 teeth at the site, which may have housed a dental practice in the late 19th century.




“It looked like what you would find in a country ham, but it was bigger,” Crawford said. He said he must have been placed there when the bricks were laid because the mortar was through the hole in the middle of the bone.

Crawford asked Riley if he had it hidden so he could easily find it to show it off. “He said, ‘No, they’re everywhere. I searched the pile and found it. “

Crawford said Riley then returned with two more bones. “I think 120 years ago or as long as it was a guy who was laying bricks maybe had country ham for lunch and put that little bone in it,” he said. , “but you can’t eat that much ham or country steak for lunch.”

Then Riley spoke about the teeth he had also found.

“I am not a dentist. I am a mechanic. He was just picking up a random pile of rubble and starting to give me teeth, ”Crawford recalls. “Everyone I’ve seen has had a problem with this.”

He said his mind started racing towards them both standing at a potential crime scene from the past, but learned that the building housed a dental office and the teeth may have been thrown out, the remains of extractions. made more sense. Riley also wondered if bones had been used to make mortar for the bricks.

“I think you can make concrete or cement from bone. I think people have been doing it for years with seashells, ”he said.






photo pin

Pictured is a 1919 Salvation Army pin found at a Mayfield construction site being demolished. Despite the demolition, the hairpin was in near perfect condition and ushered in other unique finds.




The unusual nature of it all reads a bit like a mystery that may or may not be a mystery, which somehow adds to the mystery.

“Unlike Paul Harvey, I don’t completely know the rest of the story,” Crawford said, referring to the late radio storyteller and his tagline, “but that makes for an interesting story.”


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