At just after 11:00 a.m., Gary Hargrove pulled a metal detector, a machete, a GPS mapping system device, and two leaf blowers out of his SUV.
Then the coroner, a Harrison County Sheriff's investigator and an assistant headed toward the woods. "All right Nick, which way?" Hargrove asked his GPS expert. Nick pointed the investigative team west, about a tenth of a mile from the DeSoto Park campground. That's where hunters found the skeletal remains of 43 year old Tyler Necaise.
The first time Hargrove visited the wooded site, he found about 90% of Necaise's bones, and her sleeping bag. He returned because he needed more evidence. "The autopsy or the review of the skeletal remains has showed nothing," he said. "The more bones we find, the better off we are."
Hargrove and Harrison County investigator Joey Tracy carefully plotted how they would search for clues. Tracy worked near the spot where Necaise probably died. He dug up bones, fingernails, a shirt and rings. Clues that seemed to fit into this puzzle. "The fact that the jewelry is here at least kind of takes out the possibility that she was robbed," Investigator Tracy said.
That's what the coroner was trying to prove. He started a leaf blower and used it to uncover more evidence hidden under six months of fallen leaves. "Bingo," said Hargrove, "found another vertebrae."
Moments later, Tracy yelled over to Hargrove, wondering what he else he had uncovered. The coroner said he "found a pair of undergarments, a couple of vertebrae, a collar bone."
The duo bagged up what they found, so a forensic pathologist could analyze it. "Because we're without the skin that would show you any signs of trauma, we're now relying on the skeleton," Tracy said.
Hargrove is pretty confident the remains his team dug up will prove that Tyler Necaise died in August of natural causes. So nearly three hours after they started their search, the coroner and the investigator headed home. "I think we've done all we can do," said Hargrove.
On Thursday, Dr. Paul McGarry will come over from New Orleans and examine what the investigators found.