Bikers find human skull in Henry County


Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Terry Sammons says human remains found this weekend have been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

He says he's hoping to learn whether the remains are those of 24-year-old Jackie Leigh Douthart, who disappeared last May; or Elizabeth Syperda, who vanished in 2000 at age 22.

A 24-year-old man who was a "person of interest" in Douthart's disappearance committed suicide in July during a standoff with police in western Illinois.

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The Iowa Department of Public Safety issued the following statement Monday morning concerning the discovery of human remains near the Henry County/Jefferson County line:

On March 17, 2012, at approximately 5:10 PM, the Henry County Sheriffâ??s Office received a report of possible human remains being found along Old Hwy 34, near the Henry-Jefferson County line.

Two children had been riding their bikes from Lockridge, Iowa to Rome, Iowa when they observed a white object lying in the ditch between the roadway and the railroad tracks.

Upon getting a closer look at the object, the children observed a human skull and immediately notified their parents.

The Henry County Sheriffâ??s Office, Division of Criminal Investigation, Mt. Pleasant Police Department and the Henry County Medical Examiner searched the area and discovered the skeletal remains of a human body.

The remains will be examined by the State Medical Examinerâ??s Office and will also be submitted to the DCIâ??s Criminalisticâ??s Laboratory for DNA analysis.

(The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.)