Construction Workers Find Human Bones in Santa Ana

September 17, 2020 Updated: September 17, 2020

Construction workers found human remains while building a streetcar maintenance yard in Santa Ana, California, on Sept. 16.

Construction of the maintenance yard for the Orange County Transportation Authority’s first modern electric streetcar was underway when police received a call at 10:47 a.m. about human bones discovered at the site at 2008 West Fifth Street.

Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told The Epoch Times that “multiple bones” were discovered and Santa Ana Police Department detectives are currently investigating the mystery.

“The first priority is to try to locate all the bones, and that’s the process they’re going through now,” Bertagna said.

While building the streetcar maintenance yard, the project’s assigned archaeologist at the site discovered the unearthed bones around six feet below ground and immediately contacted the police, he said.

“They had an archaeologist assigned to the project. He said, ‘Those look like human bones.’ So they called us,” he said.

“Our crime scene investigators went out there. They said, ‘Yeah, those look like human bones.’ That’s when our detectives and the coroner responded, and the coroner confirmed [it].”

Bertagna said construction had been stopped while detectives investigated whether a crime was involved.

“They don’t know when this occurred, they don’t know who, they don’t even know if it’s a male or female,” he said. “This person could have been there 100 years.”

Detectives are working in conjunction with the coroner, who is under the authority of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, to determine the origin of the bones.

“Was this somebody that was a victim of a crime? Or was this somebody that passed away and was buried there?” Bertagna asked.

Prior to its acquisition by the Transportation Authority in 2018, Bertagna said the property was “a commercial site, like a scrap yard.” Before that, the property was residential.

He said the job of the detectives is to determine whether a “criminal act” took place.

“Once they recover all the bones, the coroner will take the bones to their office, and they’ll do … DNA testing,” he said.

He said the coroner will check the bones for “obvious signs” of trauma to determine whether they may have been “the victim of a stabbing or shooting,” or whether “this individual just died and they were buried there.”

“They have no clue. I mean, this is like a clean slate. We have bones, now we have to figure it out,” he said.

If detectives determine that a criminal act occurred, they will then submit the case to the district attorney.

“The motive’s not always solved in their investigation,” Bertagna said.

The electric-powered streetcar line will run between Santa Ana and Garden Grove. It is scheduled to open in 2022.