Human skeletal remains discovered near the town of Cherry are believed to be those of a Verde Valley man reported missing two years ago.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) reported that the skeletal remains have been tentatively identified as those of Herbert Arthur Harriman, 55, a former resident of the Verde Valley.
Susan Quayle, YCSO public information officer, reports that based on dental and medical records as well as evidence collected at the scene, it is believed that the remains are of Harriman.
Forensic evidence leads investigators to believe that the remains are from a person who would have been approximately 55 years old at the time of death.
According Quayle, a hiker discovered a human skull and reported the discovery to deputies Aug. 8.
A police report states Clark Roy Piper of Cottonwood reported finding the skull while scouting for elk on Juniper Mesa, some three miles west of Cherry, near Forest Road 132 in the Prescott National Forest.
According to deputies, Harriman was reported missing in January of 2002, which initially led law enforcement personnel on an unsuccessful search. A subsequent search was conducted in February 2002 that led to the discovery of asilver, late model Ford F50 pickup bearing temporary license plates that had apparently been abandoned. The vehicle was located approximately three miles north of FR372, known as the Cherry Road.
Deputies believe the vehicle is probably Harriman's.
Quayle reported that YCSO detectives, volunteers and a team of cadaver searching dogs conducted an extensive search of the remote wilderness area and collected significant evidence.
"Deputies, volunteers and dogs began a more extensive search of the location on Aug. 14 and located pelvic and leg bones, a pair of Wrangler jeans and a silver cross on a metallic chain," Quayle said. "Harriman's vehicle was discovered about a month after he was reported missing."
She said that the bones were scattered on the mesa probably from wildlife and added that it is too early to tell if foul play is involved.
YCSO Detective John McDormett said the case is still being investigated, and detectives are examining all possibilities.
"We are working with Harriman's family, checking medical and dental records and evidence to be sure who the remains are from," McDormett said. "We are also working with a forensic anthropologist out of Phoenix to make a positive identification."
He added that the area is quite remote and rugged, located atop a mesa in the wilderness miles from civilization.
"We aren't ruling out foul play," he added. "We have to conduct a thorough investigation to be sure."
Deputies report that Harriman's next of kin have been notified, and believe that they live in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Arizona. Harriman's exact former address and livelihood are unknown, except that he lived at different locations in the Verde Valley.
Quayle said that the Yavapai County Coroner's Office in Prescott and a medical examiner from Phoenix are working the case with YCSO detectives.
The cause and manner of death surrounding the remains is still under investigation.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to please contact Detective John McDormett at (928) 771-3260 or Yavapai Silent Witness at (800) 932-3232.
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