Human Jawbone Found on Beach

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

April 2, 2024

Morro Bay Police made some rather grisly discoveries of bones near a local park, a creek and the beach with at least one believed to be human.

The department’s weekly media logs listed three incidents where someone reported finding bones.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, March 14, they received an email from an unnamed citizen. “Human bones,” reads the publicly available media log, “were discovered on the beach near the 1700 block of Embarcadero Road in the incorporated city limits of Morro Bay.”

On the 15th the next day, at 11 a.m. and again at 1:24 p.m. more bones were reportedly found. “Found bones in a creek bed at Lila Keiser Park,” the log entries read. 

Estero Bay News asked the police chief about this, as finding human bones isn’t something you see every day in Morro Bay.

Chief Amy Watkins explained via email. “Last Thursday we received an email from someone who had located a lower portion of a human jawbone that had apparently washed up on the beach or came down from Morro Creek. Some additional bones were located along the creek near the beach and then further up Morro Creek near Main Street.”

These bones were believed mostly animal. “Other than the jawbone,” Chief Watkins said, “it is unlikely that the other bones are human.”

Human bones have been found before along Morro Creek and Lila Keiser Park. Bones were discovered by a work crew back in the 1990s that was clearing out vegetation from the Morro Creek bed. Those were determined to be ancient Native American.

The City found human remains when it tried to drive a steel wall into the ground between the creek bank and the west softball field to protect against erosion of the parklands. That work also uncovered Native American bones and the local Salinans were called to come in and reinter the remains according to their customs.

The entire Estero Bay area was the site of Native American settlements — Chumash and Salinan — for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. It’s been estimated there were tens of thousands of people living in this area at its peak. 

Today, Morro Creek at Lila Keiser is one of the city’s areas where homeless folks have campsites in what are pretty dense woodlands. They have yet to determine if the jawbone is ancient remains or someone who died recently.

“It is common for us to find bones,” Chief Watkins said, “especially after large storms and major runoff upstream. The jawbone is in possession of the Sheriff’s Office, as they are the coroner. The jawbone will be sent off for investigation and we will wait for identification if available.”

It could be expected that if it was a recent death, a search would be conducted for the rest of the body.

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