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Autopsy performed on human remains found at Pima Canyon Trail

In addition to necropsies performed on mountain lions
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 19:22:07-05

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — The Pima County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the human body and the Arizona Game and Fish Department performed necropsies (animal autopsies) on the mountain lions.

The medical examiner, Dr. Greg Hess, didn't reveal a lot of information, as most of the autopsy is inconclusive at this time, but he did echo the same sentiment of AZGFD; that the body was dead before the mountain lions got to it.

Human remains were found along Pima Canyon trail Monday evening. The remains showed signs of being disturbed by wild animals. AZGFD determined those wild animals were three mountain lions, an older lion and two yearlings.

The agency performed necropsies on all three lions Thursday.

"Two of the necropsies were inconclusive as to human remains, but one lion did contain human remains. All materials gathered by us are being provided to the medical examiner's office later today," said Mark Hart with AZGFD.

Hess said the body was partially decomposed but he does not know how long the body was outside for before it was discovered. And the sex of the body is undetermined at this time, like a lot of other information on this person.

"We have not determined cause or manner of death yet. We did confirm that mountain lions were feeding on the remains, probably postmortem, we do not have an indication that the mountain lions in question were responsible for the person's death. It was one person to our knowledge," said Hess.

He said most of the information will be revealed once the body is identified.

"Often times the identity of the individual helps with the story of what happened. We will eventually come up with a cause and manner of death as we receive all of our information and identity of the individual," said Hess.

Hess said he feels confident the office will be able to figure out what happened to the body. And Hart , echo's the same confidence, in his agency's own findings.

"The significance in the finding of human remains in one of the lions is that it shows we got the right lions," said Hart.

AZGFD have since killed and removed the mountain lions. Even though the agency believes the cats didn't kill the human, killing them instead of relocating them, was still the best option. AZGFD said even without an attack, the fact that a mountain lion ate human remains is abnormal and a sign they may attack a human in the future.