Kids find skull near Fleming Island strip mall

Investigators say juveniles made discovery in field next to shopping center

Published On: Nov 18 2012 06:45:08 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 19 2012 11:00:13 AM EST

Dozens of Clay County detectives returned Monday to a field near a Fleming Island shopping center where a skull and jawbone were discovered Sunday.

Clay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Mary Justino said the robbery-homicide unit responded to a wooded area beside the Kohl's department store on East-West Parkway off County Road 220 after children walking through the area spotted the remains.

Detectives who were doing grid searches of the field on Monday told Channel 4 there was dental work on the teeth, and the remains will likely be identified through dental records.

Some Fleming Island residents went to the scene Sunday to try and learn more information. Many said they are feeling uneasy in a usually quiet and safe neighborhood. 

"If it's just a skull. I'm hoping it's possibly old and maybe the kids back there who found it dug it up," Fleming Island resident Linda Papagna said. "I'm hoping that there's no foul play or anything happened to anybody. This is Fleming Island and it's very quiet here. I hope it stays that way."

Investigators at the scene could not determine the sex, age, race or cause of death. Justino said the body is in a major state of decomposition and has been under water.

The wooded area dried up recently due to a lack of rain.

Investigators are checking missing persons cases in the region as the medical examiner will attempt to determine the identity.

"Hopefully they can find out very quickly if it's foul play and if it's recent. If it is, everyone's going to have to be careful again. Reminds me of Somer Thompson," Papagna said. "Got to keep the kids safe. I'm a runner. I run around here and I'll definitely be looking over my shoulder."