WVSP breaking

PRINCETON — Human remains have been discovered in the southeastern area of Mercer County, officials with the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment said Monday.

Initial remains were discovered around 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a statement by First Sgt. J.K. Cooper, district commander of the Princeton and Welch detachments.

“As of this date a continued search of the area has resulted in more human remains located in the area by search teams,” Cooper said.

A State Police official said a variety of search methods are being utilized, including cadaver dogs.

The recovered remains have been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Charleston for identification.

“At this time an identity or gender is unknown,” Cooper said.

The Mercer County case has not been linked to two other cases of human remains found in neighboring McDowell County.

“There is no evidence to suggest these cases are related,” Chief Deputy James E. Muncy Jr., of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday.

The first McDowell County case involved a body found June 12 in the Warriormine area identified as Billy Joe Baker, 46, of War.

Baker had been missing since May 31.

The second McDowell County case involved skeletal remains found June 18 at Bearwallow Hollow near Berwind Lake, which is in the War area.

Deputies were able to determine that the skeleton remains were human, Muncy said in a previous report. They were sent to the State Medical Examiners office in Charleston for identification.

The remains were from a recent death, and not historical, Muncy said after the discovery. They were not found in the lake or beside it. “They were out of the water, on top of a mountain near the lake,” he said. “They were probably two miles out of Buchanan County (Va.).”

The McDowell County cases remain under investigation, Muncy said.

The Mercer County incident also remains under investigation by the State Police and Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Cooper said.

The southeastern area of Mercer County includes the Oakvale, Willowton and Elgood areas, and borders Giles County, Va.

— Contact Samantha Perry at sperry@bdtonline.com

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