Clinton resident and picker John Norris poses for a photo with some of the items he found last year in a purchased storage unit. Inside the white sack are the remains of the skull. Photo by Justin Burnett

Clinton resident and picker John Norris poses for a photo with some of the items he found last year in a purchased storage unit. Inside the white sack are the remains of the skull. Photo by Justin Burnett

Storage unit skull deemed Native American

“Everywhere I go everyone asks me about the skull.”

A human skull that was found along with a jumble of stolen goods in a Whidbey Island storage unit was Native American, according to the Island County coroner.

Clinton resident John Norris said he was happy to finally get an answer to the mystery of the skull’s origin. It was a question on his mind ever since winning the bid in a storage unit auction at Waterman Self Storage on South Whidbey last fall.

Amongst the items purchased was the small, broken skull. The South Whidbey Record ran a story about the unusual find last October.

“Everywhere I go everyone asks me about the skull,” he said.

After finding it in a paper sack, Norris turned the skull over to Island County Coroner Robert Bishop, who sent it to the state’s forensic anthropologist. It was analyzed and found to be ancient Native American remains, so it was turned over to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for proper handling, according to Bishop.

Norris, a longtime “picker,” said he’s bid on many units over the years, but this was the first time he came across human remains.

“I found just about everything else,” he said. “You name it, it’s been in there. Things you don’t want to know.”

For this storage unit, he won with a $1,200 bid and discovered what seemed like a treasure trove of jewelry, memorabilia, guns, coins and antiques. It turned out, however, to be stolen items. Norris said the unit was used by “tweakers” who burglarized homes.

Norris speculated that the skull was taken during a burglary, but he will likely never know for sure what it was doing there.

Norris said he alerted police to the stolen goods and gave most of it — including a trumpet and antique glass decor — back to the owners.

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This story was first published in the South Whidbey Record.

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