CSI: Peninsula revisited — Excavation ends with no more bones found
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Detective Sgt. Lyman Moores, left, and Detective Jim McLaughlin of the Clallam County Sheriff's Office watch on Wednesday as Olympic National Park archaeologist Kim Kwarskick sifts through soil excavated from the site where human remains were found on the bed of the fromer Lake Aldwell west of Port Angeles.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A careful sifting of dirt ended Wednesday afternoon at a drained Lake Aldwell site where two hikers found a human leg bone May 15.

The Clallam County Sheriff's Office said this week the tibia may be linked to the 1991 disappearance of Karen C. Tucker of Port Angeles.

But the absence of any more bones at the site leaves the investigation of Tucker's disappearance on New Year's Day 1991 at a standstill until Tucker's DNA is compared with the bone's DNA, Detective Sgt. Lyman Moores said Wednesday.

That process could take up to two months, he said.

“There's not a lot we can do at this point,” Moores said.

A cadaver dog had alerted to the possible presence of remains at four locations in the 2,500-square-foot area that was carefully excavated with hand tools Monday through noon Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office said.

“It's like finding a needle in a haystack or a ring on a beach,” Moores said.

“There's so much area to cover, you have to at some point say stop,” he said.

“We've eliminated the possibility of bones or fragments in the area where the dog has alerted.”

The Lake Aldwell reservoir has been drained and the Elwha River Dam that created it removed as part of the
$325 million Elwha River restoration project that began in September, leaving an expanse of dry, cracked reservoir bed and the tibia sticking out of the silt.

It was found May 15 by two hikers about 1 mile south of the Elwha River Bridge on U.S. Highway 101 and is not of ancient Native American origin, authorities said.

Tucker, 41, was living with her boyfriend at the Elwha Resort near the Elwha River Dam when she vanished, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Tucker's daughter, Sophie Hill, 42, of Eugene, Ore., said Wednesday her mother was last seen by a friend standing under a streetlight on the road where the bridge is located.

It had snowed heavily, Hill said, and according to the Sheriff's Office, the temperature was 20 degrees.

“I was hopeful of them finding more bones, but there is always hope for them making a DNA match,” said Hill, a registered nurse.

The excavation was conducted by up to 12 members of the Sheriff's Office as well as personnel with Olympic National Park, search-and-rescue and Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Moores said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 20. 2012 9:35PM
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