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Blue Lake Regional Park bones case not criminal

No charges to come from discovery of human remains

No criminal charges will be filed in a case involving the discovery of human remains near Blue Lake Regional Park on two occasions earlier this year.

The Multnomah County district attorney's office considered charges of first-degree abuse of a corpse and first-degree criminal misconduct in the case, which dates back to January when a man walking his dog discovered human remains near Northeast 223rd Avenue and Blue Lake Road. A second similar discovery also was reported in May.

On Thursday, Dec. 22, the district attorney's office issued a fact sheet on the case, stating that because evidence of criminal intent is lacking, it will not prosecute the case.

'It is clear this matter should be the subject of administrative review by the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board which has authority to impose civil sanctions,' the sheet reads.

Metro owns the green space where the partial skeletal remains were found - along with part of a plastic graveside memorial wreath. The area is considered a dumpsite for excavated dirt from 14 pioneer cemeteries that Metro owns and operates.

Fairview police recovered bone fragments from six different locations in the green space, including a part of a human skull and vertebrae.

The grisly findings culminated in a six-month investigation involving the Fairview Police Department, Metro, the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.

'The explanation that some skeletal remains may have been accidentally unearthed due to a 'cave in' of an adjacent unmarked grave during the process of mechanically creating a new gravesite cannot be disproved in this case,' wrote the District Attorney's office in its fact sheet. 'The further explanation that such skeletal remains may remain undetected in the backfill and thereby unintentionally transported to the dump site also cannot be disproven.'

The district attorney's office also noted that some interviewed as part of the investigation 'have suggested that the practice of moving earth containing skeletal remains during the course of digging new graves is widespread in Metro cemeteries.'

Investigators found no evidence that the focus of the police misconduct investigation, Metro Cemetery Program Manager Rachel Fox, acted for personal gain or with any other criminal intent.

She did, however, admit 'she may have unintentionally violated some administrative regulations through the course of her duties which she began in 2009,' according to the district attorney's office fact sheet.

Metro issued a statement from Paul Slyman, parks and environmental services director, following the district attorney's announcement that it wouldn't file criminal charges.

'Metro believes the justice system works,' Slyman said. 'We are pleased the DA thoroughly reviewed this matter and reached what we believe was the correct decision.'

The Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board is expected to review 'the numerous administrative issues raised in the (police) investigation' now that no criminal charges will be pursued. Reports and other investigation documents have been forwarded to the state board.