Human skull, remains found near where man went missing

Berkeley County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dan Moon talks about the investigation.
Berkeley County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dan Moon talks about the investigation.

ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - A man who was collecting cans found a human skull and remains Wednesday morning in a thickly wooded area in Berkeley County. Sheriff's deputies in Berkeley County are investigating the discovery.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Dan Moon says the remains were discovered in the woods off Platt Road by a man collecting cans in the area. The man walked to a nearby wildlife service station and notified authorities.

"We were able to locate where the man found the human remains," Moon said. "We then called other teams out, our forensic team. They've been out here on the scene most all morning going over it, processing the scene."

The remains were found about 300 yards into the woods, past the end of Platt Road in St. Stephen. Platt Road is the same area where 46-year-old Joe Swinton went missing two years ago.

On Jan. 22, 2010, Berkeley County sheriff's deputies found Swinton's truck in a wooded area on Platt Road, a few miles from his cousin's house. A two-day search of the area turned up nothing.

Moon said when deputies searched the area back in 2010, it was flooded and search crews had to use boats to navigate the land. The wooded area is now much drier, which likely led to the discovery. Moon did not directly link the two cases.

Swinton disappeared after failing to pick up his son at his mother's house. His truck was found five days later. This month, Swinton's mother died. Her funeral is scheduled for today.

"We still have no idea who these bones belong to," Moon said. "We don't know who these human remains are."

Moon said if they do belong to Swinton it will end a two year search that has haunted his families members ever since his truck was found abandoned on Platt Road.

"There's so much evilness out there," Swinton's cousin, Annie Swinton Ludd, told Live 5 News Tuesday. "We just don't know but he was too loving for anything to come of harm from him."

The Berkeley County coroner and a forensics teams are examining the remains. Moon says it could take up to a week to identify the remains. Forensic experts will use dental records to make an identification. The remains will be taken to MUSC.

Swinton's family members don't know if he ran away or if he met up with foul play. Deputies have not said if the skull found Wednesday is linked to Swinton.

The Swinton family has been contacted by the Sheriff's office and is waiting to find out the identity of the remains.

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