The Monroe County Sheriff’s department is investigating an unusual discovery made by two hikers in Honeoye Falls this January. Although as many as 60% of adults go for walks of at least 10 minutes every week, far fewer of them encounter human bones during their outings.
Madeline Alfieri and her boyfriend, Luke Wlasniewski, were walking their dog near Carriage Road, searching for deer antlers and bones, an activity known as “shed hunting.” But as they dug a little deeper into one of their finds, it was clear that what they had found was not a deer bone, but a human skull.
“Just the dome of the head was poking out and it was just some white bone,” said Wlasniewski, who started excavating the surrounding dirt with a stick. “Once I got to the teeth and saw that, wow, this kind of looks familiar. I couldn’t believe it so I just kept going.”
And then, “He kept digging a little further until he got to the teeth and then he said, ‘These teeth look like our teeth,'” Alfieri added. “And I thought he was messing with me and said, ‘You come down and look at it.'”
Even though 32% of people feel concerned about the appearance of their teeth in waking life, there’s something especially concerning about seeing human teeth in such an unexpected situation.
“This used to be a person. It wasn’t a deer or a raccoon like we normally find,” said Alfieri. “So it was kind of shocking.”
The couple called the police after returning home from their discovery.
“They were kind of skeptical at first,” said Alfieri. “They were like, why were you digging this up? It took a little convincing as to why we enjoy doing this.”
Nevertheless, the skull has since been transported to the Monroe County Medical Examiner for a forensic inspection, but clues as to when or why the skull wound up in the dirt are still lacking. Honeoye Falls historian Lynne Menz speculates that the trail path, which used to be part of the old Lehigh Valley Railroad, could have witnessed some wild activity during its heyday.
“We had our own little roaring ’20s, so we had our share of bar room fights,” Menz said. “This was a prime area for that where all the trains were coming and going. It could be any of those things. It could also be Native Americans, which would be highly unusual, because I don’t know of any burial grounds.”
Forensics may be able to determine how old the skull is and how long it’s been resting beneath the dirt.