A young girl’s idyllic family vacation was shattered by horror Sunday when the 11 year child opened a plastic bag that washed up on Australia’s Rottnest Island Beach and discovered a human head inside. The frightened child only viewed an ear before she dropped the bag and ran to her family for help. The parents contacted local police, who arrived quickly on the scene, followed by forensic investigator’s from the mainland.
The bag contained the severed head of an unidentified male. Detective-Senior-Sargent Cameron Western described the discovery:
“The plastic contained the remains of a male Caucasian head. The male had no piercings in his ears. He was missing his front upper teeth and that’ s not recent…he was missing his front upper teeth before he met whatever fate he’s met. The avenues the remains could have arrived from are limitless.”
Rottnest Island is located just 11 miles off the Western Australian coast, near Fremantle. The island was originally called Wadjemup by the Noongar people, which translates to “place across the water.” Rottnest is 6.8 miles long, 2.8 miles wide and serves as a popular holiday and vacation destination. Local beaches were presented with a Top Australian Beaches Award by the prestigious travel guide, Explore Australia 2007.
The beach where the discovery was made will remain closed while authorities pursue the investigation. Studies of currents will be conducted to establish drift patterns and determine possible points of origin for the remains. The police are contacting boat owners for questioning and divers will search for more of the victim’s body.
According to police, they will be organizing a complete search of the beaches, concentrating on areas where debris wash up on the island. As a result, the south side of Rottnest Island is also off limits and Porpoise Bay has been declared a protected forensic area. The bay is also closed to the public and media until further notice.
“We want to make sure we do search the entire southern face of the island, which is where most of the debris washes onto that island.”
The remains have been turned over to forensic experts, who will utilize extensive laboratory tests, dental records and facial recognition software to establish the identity of the man and his cause of death. For the present, the authorities will only say the man was a male Caucasian between 30 to 50 years of age.
Sargent Western said the family was deeply shocked by the discovery and the authorities are doing all they can to comfort them:
“We have put in place what we can to assist them with the feelings they are going through.”