Disturbing News of the Day: Skulls Mailed to University

Via one of our favorite academic bloggers, Tenured Radical.  She has a good point about the reporting, such as

Jim Crow, John Doe — whatever.  A little bit of research reveals that the Crow (Apsaalooke) Nation headquarters are also in Montana, slightly south of Billings:  Augusta is a four hour drive from there. 

October 26th, 2010 @ 6:00pm
By Sam Penrod

PROVO — What first looked like a Halloween prank has turned into a mystery at BYU. A box showed up in the mail Monday, and inside were two human skulls.

The skulls showed up from the U.S. Postal Service in a box, sent Priority Mail. There was no label and no explanation why two skulls were being mailed to the university.

“Why here? We don’t know. They put ‘historical department’ [on the box]. It was delivered to the history department, but we don’t know why,” said BYU police Sgt. Mike Mock.

When someone in the history department opened the box Monday, they found the adult and child skulls inside, covered in bubble wrap. The person immediately called University Police.

The leading theory now is that the skulls are likely those of Native Americans and someone may have decided that possessing the skulls was a bad idea, especially with the recent artifact possession indictments in southeastern Utah.

Investigators believe that by sending them to a university, the person thought someone on campus would know what to do with them.

“No note at all. It had a return address of Augusta, Montana, with the name of “Jim Crow,” and that was it,” Mock said.

The name of Jim Crow initially raised some concern due to its history with segregation in the South. Detectives have not found anyone with that name in the Montana town and believe it was a made-up name, like John Doe.

University Police will send the skulls to the state archeologist to make a determination on the ethnicity and age of the skulls.

Investigators say this does not appear this is a case of foul play, and so for now there are no clear answers as to why the skulls were mailed to BYU.