By Michael R. Moser
With a full moon rising in the crisp early evening sky and Halloween just days away, scouts on an overnight hike and camping trip made a starting discovery Saturday night — skeletal remains just off the hiking trail.
Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services, Crossville Fire Department first responders and Crossville Police were called to Cumberland Mountain State Park at 6:10 p.m. Saturday after a scout troop from Morristown reported to park rangers that some of their members had discovered a body.
It took about 20 minutes for police to reach the scene, which was just off a park overnight hiking trail and near a remote camp site that the scouts were using. The report changed from a body being discovered to scattered skeletal remains being found.
Crossville Police and emergency responders were dispatched to the remote area located off Pigeon Ridge Rd. and not far from the entrance to Ballyhoo Campground because the city had years ago annexed state park property.
The Boy Scout troop from Morristown was made up of youth ages 12 to 16 and had come to the state park for a weekend camping trip. Two members of the scouts were playing in the woods about 60 to 75 yards from the hiking trail when they made the discovery, according to Ptl. Tim Vandever’s report.
The remains — that appeared to have been scattered by animals — looked to have been at the scene for at least a year. Most were found under a small bluff ledge that was sheltered by rhododendron bushes, Vandever wrote. State Park Ranger Farley also responded to the site.
Also discovered at the scene was a backpack and a shirt.
All the scouts were returned to their camp site not far away, and Dets. Donald Hammons and J.C. Hancock and Maj Mark Rosser took control of the scene. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was notified of the discovery on Sunday and the remains removed from the site.
The skeletal remains were transported to the TBI forensic lab in Nashville as the investigation continues.