Bag of Ashes Falls from the Sky, Puzzles Investigators

By By U Wire

By U Wire

GRAND FORKS, N.D.?The discovery of a mysterious object that seemingly fell out of the sky has had some in the community scratching their heads for the past two weeks.

Southern Grand Forks, N.D., resident James McDonald first noticed something was wrong on Sunday, Dec. 30. That day, he noticed a large hole in his deck, right beside his Christmas tree.

The next day, Jim Schothorst, an Environmental Health Sanitarian for the Grand Forks Public Health Department.

What they found was the exploded remains of a brown paper bag filled with ash and white chips. The large, rectangular hole, the obvious force with which it was made and the absence of footprints in the snow left investigators looking in only one direction: upward.

“Considering how [the bag] punched through that deck, I suspect it was approaching terminal velocity,” Schothorst said.

Schothorst said that he used a vacuum cleaner to collect a total of 70 pounds of material, although much of it was rock from below the deck.

UND Professor John Williams, who specializes in forensic anthropology, said that the contents of the bag were definitely the remains of a body.

“It is cremated remains,” he said. “As best I can tell, they are human.”

Williams is still in the process of cleaning the material. During the cleaning, he will be looking for any signs that can be used for identification: parts of a pacemaker or prosthetic limb or other evidence that could point to a particular case. After the cleaning, the remains will be weighed.

“For the purpose of anthropology, weight is the major defining thing,” he said. “If we find more than a certain amount of weight, we can determine how many people we have.”

Mostly, Schothorst was thankful that no one was hurt by the falling bag, which, he speculated, could easily have killed a person.

“If it had hit that lady’s roof,” he said, “it probably would have been sitting on her dining room table.”

Although speculations pointed to a plane flying overhead, the bag’s source had not been confirmed when the Dakota Student went to print. Grand Forks Police are investigating the incident.

U Wire