By ADRIAN MOJICA and NICOLE JOHNSON, WZTV
CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (CIRCA via WZTV) — In the United States, more than 11,000 unidentified human remains have been documented by the National Institute of Justice since 2017, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
A digging dog in Tennessee made a discovery Monday that might add to that number.
The dog unearthed a human hand, or at least part of one, in Cheatham County, located just west of Nashville, according to police.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Cheatham County Sheriff's Office in the investigation and issued the following statement:
"At the request of 23rd District Attorney General Ray Crouch, TBI Agents, alongside the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, are investigating the discovery of human remains near a home in the 600 block of Thompson Road. At this time, the deceased individual has not been identified and a cause of death has not been determined. The investigation remains active and ongoing."
The hunt is on out here in Pegram, TN. A dog out walking brought back human remains... appears to be a hand and other flesh. Still no word on who the body parts belong to. Multiple areas around the neighborhood are being considered a crime scene. @FOXNashville pic.twitter.com/sm2IWKCM4K— Nicole Johnson Fox17 (@NicoleReporting) December 10, 2018
In the town of Pegram, police searched inside a home, sifted through a truck and looked in the woods behind several homes. One area resident, who wished to remain anonymous, watched the action through her binoculars.
“We just kind of look out for one another, for each other if we know each other,” she said.
Another neighbor said she was stunned to hear the news.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought somebody died, or a human remain (would be found)," Sandra Flores said.
Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove said investigators found other pieces of flesh in the area, but they weren't sure how long they had been there.
"We have found other human remains ... somewhat spread around," Breedlove said.
The office is working on identifying the remains.
“That opens up all kind of other leads: why, who is she or he,” Breedlove said.
He said they do not have any local missing persons reports. But Flores is hopeful.
"It’s very fortunate if they have found someone and give closure to a family who is maybe looking,” she said.