Flagler sheriff pauses excavation of human remains at construction site until experts arrive

Deputies calling in USF’s anthropology department to assist in recovery

Human remains were found at a Palm Coast construction site, deputies said. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

PALM COAST, Fla. – Excavation has stopped at a Palm Coast construction site where human remains were found this week until a team of experts can arrive to assist.

Human remains were initially found by construction crews on Monday while they were working near the Toscana development, a gated community off Old Kings Road near Interstate 95 in Palm Coast.

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In an update on Tuesday, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said that investigators would have to potentially sift through hundreds of yards of dirt in a painstakingly slow process to find all the remains.

As a result, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday it is stopping excavation and bringing in a team from the University of South Florida’s anthropology department to assist with the recovery effort.

Staly said in a news release specialized equipment was going to be needed to speed up the process.

“Because of the size of the construction site, the number of large piles and the amount of dirt that has been moved around throughout the site we needed specialized equipment and a faster process,” Staly said in a news release. “USF developed specialized equipment and experience during the excavation at the boy’s school and offered to assist. Their equipment should greatly speed up the process and ensure no remains are missed.”

The sheriff’s office said a number of skeletal bones and fragments have been unearthed so far.

The USF team is expected to arrive on Tuesday, July 26 and deputies will remain on-site while excavation is paused to provide security.

USF’s anthropology department is known for conducting large-scale excavations, such as the excavation of bodies at the Dozier School for Boys in 2014. They also have been working on identifying long-forgotten African American cemeteries around the state.

The Palm Coast site is still considered a crime scene by the sheriff’s office.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.