UPDATE (Tuesday, April 13, 2021) -- SKELETAL REMAINS IDENTIFIED
Investigators have identified the skeletal human remains found Jan. 8 in a wilderness area southeast of Molalla.
The human remains are those of Kenneth Lee Bell, born 1957, formerly of Contra Costa County. He was identified from personal effects found with the body, and a DNA confirmation is currently underway.
Kenneth Bell's mother (now deceased) had reported her son missing in 1979, when he would have been 22 years old. He appears to have disappeared while traveling from the Bay Area to Washington State to visit family.
Mr. Bell worked in the timber industry in the late 1970s, and frequented the Portland area in that time period.
Photos of Kenneth Bell (provided by surviving family members) are linked above.
If you knew Kenneth Lee Bell in the late 1970s, detectives would like to hear from you. You can contact the Sheriff's Office Tip Line by phone at 503-723-4949 or by using the online email form at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/tip. Please reference CCSO Case #21-000584.
Our earlier press release on this case is below.
EARLIER (Jan. 22, 2021) -- Timber crew finds skeletal remains southeast of Molalla; homicide investigation launched; tips sought
Please reference CCSO Case # 21-000584
B-ROLL VIDEO of teams searching for remains on Saturday, Jan. 16 (.mp4 format):
On Friday, Jan. 8, a Weyerhauser crew working in a wilderness area southeast of Molalla stumbled across human remains, including a partial human skull. The remains were found at a work site where the crew was planting trees, in a steep ravine off a private logging road.
Scraps of clothing found in the area suggest the remains may have been there for some time. The remains predate the wildfires that swept through that area last September.
The work crew notified the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's Office deputies, detectives, and forensic specialists responded to the scene, along with the Clackamas County Medical Examiner's Office and Oregon State Police Crime Scene Investigators (CSI). Because of the steep 45-degree incline where the bones were found, Clackamas County Search and Rescue (CSAR) volunteers also responded to the scene to run rope lines down the hill.
Working together, search teams and Sheriff's Office investigators spent several days combing over and photographing the scene, recovering and documenting all available remains and any other possible evidence at the site.
Among the additional items recovered at the site: a white low-top style canvas athletic shoe, size 9.5, and a dark-gray metal ring with a squared red stone. A photo of the ring is linked above.
The on-site investigation concluded last week. Photos from the scene are attached. B-roll video of CSAR descending the hillside is here.
The recovered skeletal remains are now with Dr. Nici Vance, State Forensic Anthropologist with the Oregon State Police, for detailed analysis. Dr. Vance's submitted NAMUS entry for this case is here: https://www.namus.gov/UnidentifiedPersons/Case#/77090
More details on the remains will follow as the investigation unfolds.
At this writing, detectives are investigating the case as a homicide.
TIPS SOUGHT:Anyone with information on the human remains found southeast of Molalla is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip Line-- by phone at 503-723-4949or by using the online email form at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/tip. Please reference CCSO Case #21-000584.
Sgt. Marcus Mendoza
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office
Public Information Unit