A human skull that was found in the attic of a Tooele home is likely that of an American Indian woman, state archaeologists said.

"We can more than likely confirm it's a woman, and she died when she was in her early 20s," said assistant state archaeologist Ron Rood.

A sample of the skull was sent to a Florida laboratory on Tuesday to determine how old the skull is. Rood said it could be anywhere from 200 to 1,000 years old.

The skull was found in the attic of a home near 200 West and 100 South last month when workers remodeling a home tore open the old layers of the roof and found it there. There was no body, just the decaying skull.

Police originally investigated it as a homicide, even bringing out cadaver dogs to search in and around the 1900s-era home for any more remains. They did not find any, nor did it match with any missing person or unsolved murder cases.

Tooele police said they still do not know how the skull came to be in the attic. Rood said he has seen Indian bones show up in homes from time to time.

"People have collected human bones in the 1920s and 1930s that they found in the desert," he said. "They've kept them around the house. I remember one family was cleaning out the garage after their dad passed away and they found a box full of human bones. He had dug up an old Indian skeleton near Moab."

It is a felony-level crime to dig up human remains no matter how old they are. Under state law, tribes can also lay claim to the remains and arrange for a proper reburial. The lab tests can help determine how old the remains are and narrow down a cultural affiliation.

"Ultimately, in this case, the remains are not going to be stuck up in an attic," he said. "We're going to try to get some scientific information and work toward a respectful end to this."


E-mail: [email protected]