Gruesome discovery: Child's bones found in planter box in San Francisco

Thursday, December 17, 2015
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Outside an apartment building a block from San Francisco's Alamo Square Park, a woman gardening found a gruesome discovery.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman gardening in San Francisco found a bone belonging to a child and sources close to the investigation revealed details to ABC7 News about the chilling discovery.

Two bones were discovered at two apartment buildings at McAllister and Steiner streets, a block from Alamo Square Park, near the iconic row of Victorian houses called the "Painted Ladies".

KGO-TV spoke with the woman who found the first bone and set the entire investigation into motion. She did not want to be interviewed on camera, but told ABC7 News planter boxes were put on the porch by a tenant in 2007 and a couple of weeks ago, she was trying to save the plants, but throw out the boxes after discovering they had termites. That is when she found a human bone in the soil.

A team of experts arrived on scene and set up a makeshift lab after the woman took the bone to the police department, but not before she showed it to Natasha Koscak who lives across the hall.

"She had knocked on my door and was visibly upset, and she had put it in a large Ziploc bag," Koscak said. "The piece I saw was a section, which looked like a jawbone, and the teeth definitely seemed similar to molars. What is really sad about it is that it was smaller... I've lived here seven years. I've never noticed the plants to ever be disturbed in that box."

Police quickly put up crime tape to preserve not only the planter box, but the dirt on the sidewalk in front of the building. Cadaver dogs were brought in and they gravitated to a planter box at the entrance to the apartment next door.

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, watched the investigation unfold. He told ABC7 News, "I saw a tent of archaeologist workers sifting through dirt while detectives stood present with a parked coroner's wagon."

Neighbors say Alamo Square is a relatively quiet neighborhood, so they are shocked by the recent discovery.

"That seems very strange and very odd," said neighbor Kenly Shankman.

Neighbor Janea Mensing said the thought gives her the creeps. She shared some photos of the investigation happening outside her apartment building on McAllister Street a few weeks ago. She found out from neighbors what had been found.

"Especially too, knowing that it's two locations where the bones are at, now I'm very interested to see if it had something to do with this apartment? That apartment?" Mensing said.

Reliable sources tell ABC7 News the medical examiner and archaeologists believe both bones belong to a child.

The bones may have been put in the planters a long time ago. San Francisco police will only tell us they are working closely with the medical examiner.