EAGLE COUNTY — The top half of a skull uncovered in the Holy Cross Wilderness area on Thursday afternoon was found near the campsite of a hiker who went missing in 2010, authorities said.
The bones were found near James Nelson’s campsite, said Jessie Mosher, public information officer with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Nelson, 31, of Chicago, set out Oct. 3, 2010, for a five-day, 25-mile hike in the Holy Cross Wilderness. His fiancee reported him missing Oct. 8. Over four days, 116 people searched for more than 1,000 hours for Nelson.
“The remains were found in the general area of Mr. Nelson’s campsite, however until the results come back we cannot make any assumptions,” Mosher said.
Sheriff’s detectives spent part of Friday recovering the skull. It was turned over to the Eagle County coroner’s office to run dental records and determine if it belongs to Nelson, Mosher said.
The hiker who found the bones Thursday afternoon left them in place and called the U.S. Forest Service office in Minturn. The Forest Service staff immediately notified the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, said Dave Neely, district ranger with the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District.
In 2012, other human remains were found near Nelson’s campsite, located just 50 feet off the Holy Cross jeep road near the abandoned mining camp Holy Cross City. Investigators also found camping and hiking gear that matched descriptions given to police by Nelson’s fiancee after he went missing.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.