Greg Pearson initially thought he’d stumbled upon a turtle as he and his buddies explored the drought-exposed shores of Folsom Lake on Thursday evening.
The 12-year-old quickly realized they had, in fact, found human skeletal remains.
“I was (like), ‘Oh my God, it’s human bone,’ ” he recalled Friday, as officials continued to scour the beach near Brown’s Ravine, meticulously identifying remains and other clues.
Based on early evidence, authorities believe the remains have been there 10 to 15 years. No other information, including the gender of the individual, was available. It will likely be days before the remains are identified, authorities said.
The El Dorado County Coroner’s Office is being aided by a forensic anthropologist with the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Anthropologists from Chico State have also been called in to help, said Lt. Tom Murdoch of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
“The main thing for us is, we treat it as a crime scene because you never know,” said Murdoch.
Several bones were clustered in one area, but the evidence field was a spattering of flags along a freshly exposed peninsula near the Red Banks historic town site, an area that is usually hidden underwater.
The El Dorado Hills boy said he also found an older cellphone and a Price Club card near the body. But it’s unclear whether those are connected to the remains.
It was kind of exciting to see a human bone for the first time. It was like straight out of a movie or something.
Greg Pearson, 12, who found skeletal remains at Folsom Lake
Veronica Pearson said her son was supposed to be playing at a nearby school, but the boys, seduced by a fresh area to explore, found themselves trudging along the muddy shoreline. The boys were ready to turn back after the discovery when Greg calmly called his mom with the news and texted a photo as evidence.
“It was kind of exciting to see a human bone for the first time,” the younger Pearson said. “It was like straight out of a movie or something.”
Mom said she raced to the scene and sent the other boys home before called 911 around 4:30 p.m..
“(They) were just sitting on the edge of the shoreline,” Veronica Pearson said of the remains.
Greg Pearson said he didn’t have “nightmares” after seeing the remains, as one media outlet reported.
“I just had a hard time sleeping” Thursday night, he said.
In what he described as “like a 10-second nightmare,” Greg said he saw the bones re-forming and walking toward him.
“It didn’t gross me out,” Greg said of the remains. “It was kind of cool to see.”
Mom is quick to remind her son there is a family connected to the remains. She said she hopes the discovery will soon lead to closure for someone.
Murdoch said it was too early to narrow down the possibilities.
“We’ve got hundreds of missing persons,” Murdoch said. “I would be surprised if the body found yesterday was the only one down there.”
Staff writer Cathy Locke contributed to this report.