5 Skeletal Remains: Arizona Bones Found; Who Killed People In Desert? Unsolved Murder Sparks Drug-Smuggling Theories [PHOTOS & REPORT]

By Staff Reporter June 5, 2013 12:06 PM EDT
5 Skeletal Remains: 5 dead bodies were recently found in the Arizona desert, sparking a drug-related murder mystery. (Photo: Reuters)
5 Skeletal Remains: 5 dead bodies were recently found in the Arizona desert, sparking a drug-related murder mystery. (Photo: Reuters)

Five skeletal remains found in the Arizona desert have sparked a murder mystery. The bones, belonging to five different people, were uncovered about 12 miles northwest of the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation, a "smuggling corridor" for Mexican and Central American drug smugglers.

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The five skeletal remains, which were partially covered in sand and rocks, were discovered by Border Patrol agents late last month. After a preliminary examination, police are convinced that the victims were murdered. According to the International Business Times, the five skeletal remains suggest that the individuals were either shot or beaten before being discarded in the desert. "We are treating it as a likely homicide," Prima County Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Hess told Reuters. "However, we don't know how those injuries were inflicted yet, and whether or not those injuries were blunt force injuries that caused bones to be traumatized or were gunshot injuries." Examiner Hess also revealed that the five victims were most likely killed simultaneously. They were either murdered at the location where they were found, or dropped there, Hess maintains.

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Five Skeletal Remains: Medical examiners have determined that the five murder victims were murdered simultaneously. (Photo: Reuters)
Five Skeletal Remains: Medical examiners have determined that the five murder victims were murdered simultaneously. (Photo: Reuters)

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Alongside the five skeletal remains were also various personal items, including currency, suggesting that the Arizona desert victims stemmed from Mexico or Central America. The bodies, found in an area known for drug and human trafficking, are not the first to be uncovered in the desert region between the United States and Mexico. According to officials, deaths in the smuggling corridor are not uncommon due to harsh desert conditions. Immigrants traveling across the border are often equipped with inadequate supplies, causing them to die from exposure to the elements or starvation. In the case of the five skeletal remains, however, the victims were killed by other individuals, most likely drug smugglers.

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In the coming weeks, autopsies will be performed on the five skeletal remains. The results will, hopefully, shed light upon their gender, age, and time of death. Medical examiners currently estimate that the murder victims died within the last year.

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