Kane County Coroner Chuck West took a step back on Friday from reports this week tying skeletal remains found near a St. Charles forest preserve to a homeless man.
St. Charles police identified the remains as belonging to John Selman, 63, most recently of Earlville, Ill. Two female college students found the remains last weekend south of LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve and reported the discovery to police on Tuesday. St. Charles Police Spokesman Paul McCurtain said police linked Selman to the bones, in consultation with West's office, based on the evidence found at the scene.
"The initial identification was based on his driver's license that was found in his wallet, the birth certificate with the remains that was also in his name, and the body was wearing the same clothing (Selman) was last seen in when he was dropped off in that area," McCurtain said.
West said that information is enough to suspect the remains belong to Selman, but not enough to say for sure.
"Who they think it is and who it is are two different things," West said. "It has not been confirmed. The whole thing is so suspicious."
Two factors aroused his suspicion, West said. The first was the college students initially telling police they didn't know if the remains were human or animal despite going through the pockets of the clothes on the remains and locating the ID.
The second factor involved the results of an initial forensic dental analysis that showed teeth on a jawbone at the scene appear to have had dental work performed on them that is inconsistent with the last known dental record from Selman. That record, however, dates back to dental work Selman had performed at a state hospital in the 1980s.
Police and coroner staff were to return to the site where the bones were discovered to try and find missing teeth, and possibly the rest of the head and body, West said.
More dental analysis and possibly DNA matching will be needed before a final determination is made, he said.
"Right now, everybody is assuming, and we don't deal with assumptions," West said. "We have to be able to prove it."