Bones found in military park may belong to 92-year-old man|[06/09/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2007

Bones found in the Vicksburg National Military Park in May might belong to a 92-year-old man reported missing 10 years ago, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said.

&#8220It’s going to be an elderly man that wondered off in 1995,” he said.

The man’s family reported him missing from his Baldwin Ferry Road home shortly after Memorial Day that year. Huskey said he is waiting for DNA results to confirm the man’s identity.

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&#8220We are actually doing the DNA test at Scales (Biological Laboratory in Brandon),” he said. &#8220I don’t want to release his name until we have a DNA sample.”

A partial skeleton was found May 14 in a heavily wooded area between railroad tracks and the Texas Memorial on the South Loop as park officials investigated vandalism and a theft of relics in the same area.

Huskey said Friday identification and clothing were found with the bones, which were sent to the Mississippi State Crime Lab.

Rick Martin, the park’s chief of operations, said a $10,000 reward remains for information leading to the arrests of the relic hunters.

&#8220We’re still following leads on the vandalism, and that’s all I can tell you,” he said.

The relic hunters dug more than 100 holes around the Texas Memorial, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The vandals have been spotted near the memorial at the Railroad Redoubt since, and patrols have been intense.

Under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, it is against the law to excavate, remove, damage, alter or deface archaeological resources on federal or Indian land. It is also illegal to traffic items found on such land.

Penalties for ARPA violators include being fined $20,000 and imprisoned two years. Subsequent convictions could result in a $100,000 fine and five years in prison.

Under Mississippi law, vandalism that causes more than $1,000 in damage carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The federal park was created by Congress in 1899 to preserve the siege lines from the Civil War fighting here in 1863. Because thousands of soldiers were entrenched along the lines, the finding of ammunition, weapons, belt buckles and buttons is not unusual. The park and its roads are closed at night.