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Crews uncover human remains at Helena area work site

Posted at 10:10 PM, May 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:48:58-04

HELENA – Contractors were working on running a sewer line to a residence adjacent to Robinson Park when they uncovered significantly decomposed remains.

“Behind me there was an excavator that was digging in the asphalt,” said Bryan Backeberg, Lewis and Clark County Coroner.

Backeberg said the workers initially thought the bones belonged to an animal. The remains were four to five feet below ground.

“Until they dug a little further, and then noticed kind of a mandible and some remains and part of a casket,” said Backeberg.

Lewis and Clark County coroner Bryan Backeberg said the workers soon discovered part of the skull.

According to Helena History, the Robinson Park area was the Old Catholic Cemetery between 1863-1908.

When Resurrection Cemetery was opened on North Montana, some, but not all, of the graves were moved.

“Unfortunately there’s not a lot of the casket that’s still intact. We did collect a large majority of the remains,” said Backeberg.

The human remains will be sent off to the Missoula crime lab.

The University of Montana’s anthropology department will investigate the remains further.

“I would just say that if you find yourself in these situations, please call. Let us know, we will come out and collect everything we can, if we need to, and go from there,” said Backeberg.

When Resurrection Cemetery opened in 1908, some remains from the old cemetery were disinterred and reburied there, but some 1,600 individuals remained behind.

Neglect of the old burial ground took a toll over the decades, and the cemetery fell into sad disrepair.


UPDATE 10:30 A.M.: Lewis and Clark Co. Coroner Bryan Backeberg confirmed that human remains have been uncovered at a work site on Livingston Ave.

Backeberg says workers were digging a hole for utility, when they uncovered a significantly decomposed body.

The remains were uncovered about 4′ to 5′ below ground.

Backeberg says the area where the remains were recovered used to be a cemetery. He says they are working to recover the rest of the body respectfully.


HELENA- The Lewis and Clark Coroner was called out to a scene on Livingston Ave. Tuesday morning.

The coroner was called to a work site on the 1700 block of Livingston Ave. right around 10:00 a.m.

A backhoe had a section of the street dug up, and the road was closed for work.

Helena Police were also on scene for a short time.

This is a developing story, MTN has a reporter on the scene. We will update you when we have more details.