"There could be skull fractures, there could be broken bones. Forensic pathologists can examine those bones and determine whether these are impact wounds or old fractures or new fractures, or if they've healed or if they haven't," said Sgt. Lynn Beard of the Abilene Police Department.
Broken bones, injury to the tissue and bullet fragments fragments are just few of the ways investigators are able to tell if someone was murdered or died of other causes. For example, a cause of death was determined based on only a skull due to the visible fractures.
"Had that been a case where, for example, the victims wrists had been cut and they bled to death, then there was no hard-bone injury, it was all soft tissue type injury, and that tissue is gone because of animal activity and decomposition and that certainly makes it more problematic," said Sgt. Beard.
And in cases with very few remains, it takes even more time.
"So a remains case with just a few bones, you're talking about microscopic examination and tissue samples and DNA sampling and all types of things that take months and months to complete," explained Sgt. Beard.
Regardless of the number of bones found or whether or not foul play is involved, every remains investigation follows the same process. And that's a process that takes time and meticulous examination.
"But to them, it's another case that they have to work, and it creates a back-log," Sgt. Beard said. "Especially in DNA types of situations. It's not uncommon for it to take two or three months to get a positive DNA test result back."
Though it'll take time, many are anxiously awaiting the results in hopes the wait will yield justice.