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Skull could be that of hiker missing since 2007

Nov 13, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan said the partial human skull found late in the summer near the Popo Agie Falls could be that of the Lander hiker who went missing five years ago.

"We have received the skull and the report from the University of Wyoming," McAuslan said Monday. "It's going to be sent to Salt Lake City for DNA comparison with the man reported

missing in the mountains in 2007."

A team comprised of members of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, coroner's office and U.S. Forest Service as well as Bureau of Land Management archeologists recovered the find in August about a mile above the falls in the Wind River Mountain Range near Lander. The falls is an estimated two-mile hike from Bruce's parking lot. A hiker discovered the skull the previous day, but it grew dark before authorities could go in and retrieve it.

McAuslan sent the skull to an expert in bone identification at UW in Laramie.

McAuslan said the UW report findings suggest the skull belonged to a man between 40 and 55 years old. He said the skull could be that of Clay Rubano, 46, who went missing five years ago.

"The skull was found approximately a mile from where other bones identified as his were found," McAuslan said.

Searchers in the spring of 2008 found some of Rubano's personal effects near Sheep's Bridge as well as bone fragments that were later confirmed by the Salt Lake City lab and McAuslan as Rubano's. Evidence suggested the experienced hiker may have fallen and suffered hypothermia.

"When they did the identification of the first bones that were found, it took a month," McAuslan said about the lab. "So I expect this to take a month."

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