Bones Found at Mission Home Are Indeed Human

At first, police were unsure if the bones found at 21st and Shotwell streets belonged to an animal.

The medical examiner confirmed that bones found at a Mission residence last week are human after all, Bay City News reports.

When San Francisco police responded to a call about bones on 21st Street between Folsom and Shotwell streets last Thursday, they were unable to immediately distinguish them from animal bones. The medical examiner is now working to determine the cause of death.

The woman who owns the property at 3025 21st St., Robin Whiteside, told Mission Local that the bones were found while gardening. She has lived there for 30 years so the investigators may have to reach farther back in time. The property, across from the Jose Coronado Playground, was built in 1875.

It wouldn’t be the only mystery of the past. In 2016, a little girl holding a rose was found in a coffin was found during the remodeling of a Richmond District home. She went unidentified for about a year, until a group called the Garden of Innocence determined her to be Edith Howard Cook. She died of undernourishment on Oct. 13, 1876 at about three years old. 

San Francisco started running out of space and banned new burials in 1901. When bodies from the Odd Fellows Cemetery in the Richmond District, then a popular spot for cemeteries, to Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma during the early 1900s, Cook was left behind. 

Cook was preserved in an airtight coffin, curls and all. Garden of Innocence linked her back to her current-day relatives and, in 2017, she had her third funeral.

In November 2015, a woman also found bones while gardening, but in an planter box near Alamo Square on the 1300 block of McAllister Street. They were later determined to belong to a child aged eight to 14 years old, and another individual of an unknown age. 

Investigators thought it could revive the case of Kevin Collins, a 10-year-old boy who went missing in 1984. Hopes were similarly lifted in 2013 when bones were found on the 1100 block of Masonic Avenue, about a mile from the bones in the planter, but let back down when they appeared to be animal remains

Humans bones were also found on the 1900 block of Fillmore Street in 2016.

The bones found last week could simply be a recent death. The same day the bones were called in, police arrested two people linked to the disappearance of 73-year-old Benedict Ching in a separate case.

The man was reported missing from his Outer Mission home on Monday and officers found a dismembered body. Stephanie Ching, believed to be his daughter, and her partner, Douglas Lomas, were en route to Bejing but met by Homeland Security officials.

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