British police find skull at former children’s home

>LONDON (AP) – Police used dogs to search for more bodies Monday at a former children’s home on the British island of Jersey after a child’s skull was found under a concrete slab there.

The skull was found Saturday by a police dog in an investigation of the property, which was a home for orphaned and abandoned children until 1986. Forensic experts have determined the remains are at least 20 years old and that of a child.

Officials said that without dental records and a full list of who went missing from the home, it may be difficult to determine the child’s identity.

Police used dogs Monday to search for additional remains, focusing on a bricked-up cellar on the property, Jersey deputy police chief Lenny Harper said.

“We have had some positive indications from the dogs, which are trained to find human remains, but there could be a number of viable alternative explanations,” he said. “At this stage we just don’t know if there are more bodies.”

The building that housed the Haut de la Garenne home was built in 1867 and reopened in 2004 as a youth hostel on Jersey, about 100 miles south of Britain’s main island and 14 miles from the French coast. The home was operated as part of Jersey’s state-run child care program.

Police have received the names of people believed to be missing and are trying to determine if their remains are hidden on the property, Harper said.

About 150 people who lived in the home have come forward to say they were abused there, many prompted by the discovery of the skull. Most say the abuse – which includes allegations of sexual assault, beatings and children locked in confinement for extended periods – happened in the 1960s and 1970s, said Harper.