Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson examines a human skull that was turned in to his department Friday after being found among items purchased in an abandoned storage locker. (photo by Jeff Bobo)
ROGERSVILLE — Finding hidden treasures within the contents of abandoned storage lockers can get you ahead financially, or in the case of one Rogersville man, can get you a head — literally.
Ronald Wayne Mosier purchases the contents of abandoned storage lockers searching for valuables to sell on a fairly regular basis.
One lot he purchased recently from East Main Storage in Morristown contained some furniture, tools, a few dishes, clothes, and other "odds and ends." Among those "odds" was a human skull wrapped in a small blanket inside a cardboard box.
"I first thought it was probably artificial, like for Halloween," Mosier said. "I got it out of the box and got to looking at it, and man I laid it down right fast."
"I thought about it for a day or two, and I finally decided that thing is real," he added.
The skull is missing its jaw bone, and all but about four upper teeth.
Mosier, 74, said he wasn't sure what to do with it, and he wasn't going to make any hasty decisions.
"Something like that you just don't dispose of," he said. "You can't throw it in the garbage. It needs to be buried."
Mosier added, "I couldn't figure out what to do with it. It was kind of a concern to me. If I just bury it and they dig it up 10 years from now they'll think I done something. I thought about it for a few days, and I finally called the sheriff and asked him what to do."
Mosier called the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office Friday morning, and the HCSO took custody of the skull.
Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said that because the skull was purchased from a Morristown storage facility he contacted the Morristown Police Department.
An MPD detective picked up the skull Friday afternoon and will presumably investigate its origin.
One clue Lawson discovered which had eluded Mosier, however, was three small round holes around the top of the skull. The holes appear to have been precisely drilled.
"That may be an indication that this skull was used in the medical field or at a school or laboratory," Lawson said. "We really have no way of knowing at this point. Hopefully Morristown (police) can track down who rented that storage space and solve this mystery."
Mosier said he buys one or two abandoned storage lots per week, and the skull is definitely the "weirdest thing I've ever found."
"I gave them the name of the locker, and everything, and when they check it out they may find that those people had something to do with medical science," Mosier said. "Then again, somebody may have committed a crime a long time ago. There may be police still be investigating it somewhere."
Mosier said if the skull turns out to be "legal" he wants it back.
If someone is willing to pay for it, it may turn out to be a hidden treasure after all.