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Marana police find more human bones in riverbed

A scaled-back search for skeletal remains continued Tuesday in the bed of the Santa Cruz River just south of the Overton Road Bridge in Marana.

About 12 Marana police officers and two cadaver dogs searched throughout the day Monday, finding 18 bones, including a skull, a lower jaw with all its teeth and five teeth from the upper jaw, said Sgt. Bill Derfus.

Officers said the person’s race or ethnicity, gender and age could not be determined, but police are hoping dental comparisons or DNA will lead to an identification.

The remains, Marana police said, could be those of Roy J. Harris, 28, a Tucson man washed into a Santa Cruz tributary during heavy rain last summer.

Derfus said Tuesday the remains, the first of which were found Sunday night, also could be those of a transient or an illegal immigrant.

Six searchers and three cadaver dogs, specially trained to find human remains, searched the riverbed Tuesday, Derfus said.

Sgt. Tim Brunenkant said the remains were found about 8:15 p.m. Sunday by 12- and 18-year-old sisters walking their dogs in the riverbed.

Brunenkant said the girls’ dogs dug something up in the riverbed and when the girls went to look, they found a skull. The girls ran home and called police, Brunenkant said.

No clothing or other items were found with the remains that could point to the gender of the dead person, Derfus said.

Harris was swept away by monsoon floodwaters about 10:40 p.m. July 19 when he stepped out of his car and was carried into a drainage pipe that runs beneath a lumberyard at North 15th Avenue and West Mabel Street and empties into the Santa Cruz.

Harris was on his way from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to his home near Interstate 10 and West Ruthrauff Road when he apparently became lost and disoriented in the storm, his mother, Mary Harris, said at the time.

After an extensive search failed to turn up Harris’ body, Tucson police Sgt. Mark Robinson said, “There’s no way that we have to predict where he may have ended up.”

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