Hunter finds human skull, solving 20-year missing person case, Washington cops say

A hunter traversing a heavily wooded portion of Whidbey Island discovered a human cranium on Saturday, helping solve a decades-old missing person case, Washington authorities said.

The hunter was walking on Smugglers Cove Road in the afternoon when the remains were discovered, the Island County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The Sheriff’s Office, Coroner’s Office and search dogs went to the spot the next day to look for more skeletal remains and clues. That in-depth search on Sunday turned up “additional human bones along with a .38 caliber revolver,” deputies said.

Deputies said the Coroner’s Office relied on dental records to figure out that the skull belonged to Carl Jesberg, who had been reported missing on Dec. 23, 2000, by his family.

Jesberg had written a suicide note, leaving it behind for his wife, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“During 2001, several searches were done for Carl in areas where he was known to hike, the area where he was located was well outside of those search locations,” deputies said.

Jesberg went missing on Dec. 21, 2000, when he was a 49-year-old living in Lagoon Point, according to a South Whidbey Record article published the month he disappeared. The newspaper reported that Jesberg and his wife ran “a successful window supply business.”

“Earlier this month his wife left on a holiday trip to the East Coast, expecting him to join her later by taking a Dec. 21 flight from Sea-Tac Airport. He never made the flight,” the newspaper reported in 2000, adding that the sheriff “said Jesberg was arrested by the State Patrol on suspicion of driving under the influence very early on Dec. 21. He called his wife at 5 a.m. local time to explain that he had missed his flight, but he neglected to mention his arrest.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.