An extra fibula and jawbone have investigators wondering who else was burned in the fire pit where Andrew and Elizabeth Hawes are believed to have taken their brother's body after he was brutally murdered at his Andover home.
The bones, including the partial remains of Edwin Hawes, were discovered more than a year ago when police officers checked out an illegally burning bonfire on Andrew Hawes' farm in Cottonwood County, nearly 200 miles from the Twin Cities. When the medical examiner and a forensic anthropologist reconstructed Edwin Hawes' remains, they discovered three extra human bones.
Mixed in the fire pit were a left eye orbit, a fibula and part of a lower jaw. It wasn't until three months ago that the Cottonwood County sheriff's office was notified about them, which triggered a fresh search of the fire pit. Deputies found several small bone fragments, according to the search warrant filed in Cottonwood County in November.
Investigators know little about the bones, including how long they had been at the site. They are waiting for DNA testing to put a name or names to the remains. And they haven't been able to talk to Elizabeth Hawes, who was convicted last month in her brother's death, or to Andrew and his fiancée, Kristina Dorniden, who also are charged, because of pending trials or testimony they might have to provide, authorities said.
Until there is more information, Cottonwood County Sheriff Jason Purrington said Thursday, he couldn't label the case a suspicious death or homicide.
"It obviously sounds suspicious, but we want to make sure we have all the info before we make a call," he said.
The three charged in Edwin's death haven't been accused of any crime involving the other bones, but Purrington didn't rule out talking to them about the case.
All three were in the truck that was driven with Edwin's body to the farm in late October 2008.
During Elizabeth Hawes' trial last month, prosecutors said evidence showed that Andrew burned it.
She was convicted of first-degree murder aiding and abetting and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Then, in one of the many continuing twists in the case, Andrew Hawes told his lawyers last week that he would waive his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and testify about his "personal knowledge" of Edwin's death, including that his sister played no role in planning it.
Edwin Hawes was beaten with a bat, shot in the chest with a crossbow and run over with his own car.
Andrew's trial is scheduled for April. Bryan Leary, Hawes' public defender, said Thursday that he had no comment.
During her trial, Elizabeth Hawes testified that Andrew built the fire in the fire pit and that "he slid something out of the truck that looked like my brother wrapped in a brown, fuzzy blanket."
"I kept thinking to myself, 'How could this get any worse?' she said in court. "Why am I in the middle of a Stephen King thing? Why isn't my life normal?"
The November search warrant said that Susan Myster, a forensic anthropologist, located three "presumed duplicated and/or inconsistent elements."
A human body wouldn't have two jaw bones and two left eye sockets and three fibulas, the court document said.
She also consulted with a biological anthropologist and an archaeologist and confirmed "a minimum of two partial human bodies were present in the fire pit."
The bone fragments found in the pit were too small for DNA testing, Purrington said. Fabric and hair were also found during the search.
The sheriff's office is working with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
"We are kind of at a stall stage right now," Purrington said.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465