IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE...HALLOWEEN

Pity Menard County sheriff's deputies who drew short straws earlier this month and were tasked with doing a job no one wants: Slithering beneath a home in search of human remains. It began when a Petersburg homeowner hired a contractor for a weatherization project in a crawl space and a basement. What's this? Looks like bones! And so authorities were alerted. What the contractor found in the crawl space were, in fact, remains of the homo sapiens variety, and cops being cops, they did what they had to do. "This is one of those calls where you go 'Oh, no, what do we have here?'" recalls Ben Hollis, chief deputy for the Menard County sheriff's office. While an expert with Illinois State Police examined the bones, deputies did what Hollis describes as a "full investigation" of the crawl space. It was dirty and damp, but when it was over, deputies were satisfied there was nothing more to be found. State police determined that the remains were "comparative specimen bones," a fancy name for medical training stuff, which made sense. A prior owner of the home, now deceased, was a physician, the bones were old and, if examined closely, labeled. There was a lot of other stuff, some might call it junk, that was in the crawl space, says Hollis, who figures someone found it a handy place to store things. The bones – a rib, a femur and some vertebrae -- now are secured in the department's evidence locker. "You never know what you'll run across in this business," Hollis said.

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