Woman finds human jaw on Captiva beach

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Rebecca Dodds went from thinking she found the remains of some kind of marine animal to realizing she was holding a human jaw in her hand.

Dodds spends her weekends shelling on Sanibel and Captiva. It’s where the best shells are, she said, and her collection is impressive. But what she found Wednesday sent chills up her family’s spines.

“I thought I found a whalebone or something, and I just threw it in my shell bag,” Dodds said.

Dodds wonders if the bone could be from a Hurricane Ian victim or a missing person’s case, but an archaeologist told WINK News it could also be from an indigenous person who lived here centuries ago. It could have even been brought in during an event like beach renourishment.

“The number one concern is that it could be recent and associated with some kind of recent– potentially, a crime, and no one can make that determination except for law enforcement,” said Sara Ayers-Rigsby, region director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Dodds didn’t mean to bring it home. Her hope now is that the person can be identified.

“It’s still surreal right now. It’s kind of disbelief, but at the same time, I’m curious. It’s very sad. I do hope they can find out who. This person has a story,” said Dodds.

Ayers-Rigsby told WINK News if law enforcement believes the remains have been out there for more than 75 years, they will contact the state’s archaeologist and begin the process of working with descendants of the Calusa tribe, such as the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes for identification and how to proceed with them.

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