Skull fragment discovered near East Hannibal recreation area

Elijah Owens holds a piece of bone his father discovered Aug. 27, 2013 at the John Hay Public Use Area near Hannibal.

A Hannibal man and his family discovered what they believe are human remains Tuesday while swimming at the John Hay Public Use Area in East Hannibal, Ill.

Tuesday was the first day Kenny Owens had a chance to enjoy one of his favorite summer past times--going for a swim in the Mississippi River with his dog and family.

He's done just that for the past 20 years, but Tuesday was a first for him.

"I found an upper and lower jaw bone, I believe," he said. "I found a few teeth. One looked like it had a little super glue on it."

Owens was going along the shore line, throwing out glass from the river's bottom so that no one would get hurt. That's when he came across the bones.

Owens' nephew, Elijah, also was swimming when his uncle came across the find.

"I think it's different, that's for sure," Elijah Owens said. "I never expected to find pieces of human bones out there."

This isn't Kenny Owens' first unusual discovery here.

"My son, and I found a pearl last year," he said. "We were having a competition on who could find the most mussels."

The Pike County, Illinois Sheriff's Office collected the bones from Owens Tuesday afternoon.

The discovery mirrors a similar find nearly two years ago in the same area.

Those were later identified as Native American bones.

It took nearly six weeks for an FBI lab in Quantico, Va. to identify the bones discovered Sept. 11, 2011.

The FBI dated those bones back several hundred years.

Historical research showed that the area was likely used as a burial ground because of the soft ground next to the river.

Erosion and low water levels expose the bones over time.