The Highlands mystery: Two coffins


Editor, Renton Reporter

The remains of a second person were found Monday just off Edmonds Avenue Northeast in the Highlands alongside what a famed forensic anthropologist has determined was probably a young man who died in the early 1900s.

The anthropologist, Dr. James Chatters, the discoverer of the Kennewick Man who lived about 9,500 years ago, determined last Friday that the first remains likely are those of a young man who was in his late teens or early 20s when he died.

Those initial remains were found in early May, but it wasn’t until later in the month that police and an investigator from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office were called to determine whether the remains belonged to someone who was the victim of a crime. He wasn’t.

The owner of the property, Renton builder Jim Jacques, was required to hire an expert to do further recovery efforts and hopefully determine the identity of the young man.

Chatters and his crew began that work on Friday.

The coffin of a second person – and older woman – was found Monday next to the young man’s coffin. Jacques has also been helping Chatters’ crew with the work.

Chatters began discovering ornate pieces from a coffin that didn’t seem to fit with a young man’s. His team found too many neck bones for just one person. A pelvis bone and a jaw bone provided convincing evidence that a second person was buried alongside the young man.

Now, Chatters will have to try to determine the identifications of two people.

Unknown is why they were buried in the same grave but in separate coffins. However, one possibility Chatters is considering is that they died in the flu epidemic of 1917 and were buried together.