Mystery surrounds discovery of human remains at apartment building, shallow grave in Southeast DC

Many questions still linger after the discovery of three sets of human remains found in the last week at a Southeast D.C. apartment building and a shallow grave in a wooded area nearby.

Construction workers first discovered remains, which were later determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to be human remains, while working on an excavating project in the lower level of the building last week.

Crews digging in the lower level of the building on Wayne Place, SE, in Congress Heights last Wednesday called police after making the discovery of the first set of human remains in a crawl space. Construction workers who found the remains took pictures that showed a skull and other bones that appear to have been there for a very long time. There were no personal effects or clothing with the remains, according to one of the workers who found them.

The construction worker who found the bones in the crawl space said they were confused at first on what to do.

"Some were thinking of putting them in a bag, but we decided not to because we don't know who the person was," said constructor worker Adam Escobar.

After police were alerted about the first set of remains, investigators arrived and began combing through the property and the wooded area behind it. That is where they found two additional sets of remains by cadaver dogs on Saturday. Both of them female, according to officials.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Monday that those two sets of human remains were found in a wooded area in a shallow grave off of Wayne Place. He said these human remains are suspicious and homicide detectives are involved with the investigation. However, the cause and manner of death are unconfirmed at this point.

Police said the human remains are female and investigators are looking at open missing persons reports to try to determine the identities of the remains. The chief medical examiner said the victims have likely been dead for more than a year.

"What we have done so far as of [Monday], we are cleaning and reconstructing the skeletal remains of each individual," said D.C. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell. "The shallow grave that was spoken about, those skeletal remains were commingled so it required us to make sure that we sorted those out completely. Our next order of business is to pull together a biometric profile. That would be trying to identify age, ancestry as well as stature."

On Monday, police brought in recruits from the police academy who performed a grid search in the woods looking for any other remains.

Anyone with information that could help detectives in their investigation is urged to call the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099.