McALESTER, Okla. — Law enforcement officers and first responders fanned out over land along Lake Eufaula on Monday after the discovery of what has been identified as human bones.
"We had a rabbit hunter come across some bones," said Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris. The sheriff said the call came in Sunday evening. A deputy went to the area and took some photographs, which were sent to the state Medical Examiner's office, Morris said. Based on the photographic results, the ME's office was able to identify the remains as human bones, the sheriff said.
Law enforcement officers were searching the area Monday afternoon, with the state Medical Examiner's office also on the scene, and access to the site was restricted. Morris said the site is near the Cardinal Pointe Recreation Area on Lake Eufaula.
Morris said it's way too early in the process to identify the remains as related to any specific missing person case in Pittsburg County.
He did confirm that investigators have found what appears to be some kind of green clothing at the site. He estimated the site where the bones were found are from a mile to a mile-and-a-half from where a purse belonging to missing McAlester resident Holly Marie Cantrell was found nearly a year ago at the Cardinal Pointe Recreation area. Morris said the bones were found on the opposite end of the area where the purse was found.
On Feb. 25, 2017, a hunter found Cantrell's purse at the Cardinal Pointe Recreation Area, which led a group of hunters to search the area. Morris said at the time that the items recovered in addition to the purse in the 2017 search included a shirt, a hair clip and some paperwork, but only the paperwork was identified as belonging to Cantrell.
Cantrell, of McAlester, was 40, when she went missing last year. She has been missing since Jan. 20, 2017 when she left her job at the McAlester Regional Health Center for lunch at 11:56 a.m. while wearing green nursing scrubs. She was observed on MRHC security video getting into a green, short wheelbase truck. Another lead indicated that Cantrell was seen at Braum's on U.S. Highway 69 shortly after noon that day, but authorities have not been able to find anyone who has seen or heard from her since.
Morris said on Monday afternoon that law enforcement officers were continuing to search the area, looking for anything that will help the investigation.
"The search party is going to continue to search and collect as much as they can," Morris said. Searchers left the area later Monday afternoon.
The bones will be taken to the state Medical Examiner's office, where efforts to identify the remains will continue, authorities said.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.