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Most people keep clocks, candles, photos, or perhaps decorative rocks on their mantelpiece. However, in October 2020 one resident from Morgan County, Tennessee, made the unusual choice of adorning his living room with a skull wearing sunglasses. Little did they know that the skull actually belonged to 79-year-old Junior Will McCann. A man who went missing in 2012. 
A “Decorative Skull” is Actually Part of a Murder Investigation
The mystery of the missing man seemed like it was going to stay a mystery forever. That is until police detectives got the tip that McCann’s human remains were on display in an unnamed residential home.
Officers seized the skull and sent it for testing to the Regional Forensic Center and the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department. There they discovered it had belonged to the unfortunate Junior Will McCann.
According to District Attorney General Russell Johnson, McCann went missing eight years ago. One of his family members, who had since passed, away may have been the murderer.
“An extensive search was made — at the time of the skull being taken ‘into custody’ by the MCSO, TDOC, and others — of the area where the skull had been found (according to the man who supposedly found it),” wrote Johnson in a Facebook post. “Speculation and rumor has been that Junior Willie McCann was possibly killed by a family member who is now deceased as well.” 
Human Skull Discovered Sitting on Fireplace Mantle for Over a Year and Sporting Sunglasses Positively Identified as Man…Posted by Russell Johnson on Monday, October 26, 2020
So far, the homeowner who used the skull as decoration hasn’t been associated with the murder. Still, many questioned that strange decision to use it as a goofy decoration. After all, who would casually find a skull and think, “this would look great on the mantel with some sunglasses”? Most people would just call the cops.
One commenter wrote, “This is one of those things that leave me speechless. If it was found, why in the world was it not turned over to authorities?”
Old Cases Reopened with Forensic Science
Although McCann’s murderer hasn’t been convicted, its case is one of many that have been furthered with the help of forensic science. Even cases from decades ago.
Take the murder of 23-year-old Mary Scott, for example. Her murder occurred in 1969. However, this past year, with the help of forensic geology, the authorities found a suspect: 75-year-old John Jeffrey Sipos. It’s remarkable that a half a century-old murder can still be investigated thanks to the advances in DNA research.
Scott was living alone in California, working as a cocktail waitress and then a dancer. But on November 20, her coworker came looking for her and found her dead in her apartment. Scott had been raped and strangled. Someone had broken the chain off the door and left the home in complete disarray.
When her sister, Rosalie Sanz, saw old cases being solved with DNA technology, she wondered if the same could be done for Scott. She contacted a friend who was a retired police officer on the 50th anniversary of the murder. The friend reached people still on the force and the case reopened.
“Investigators from the San Diego Police Cold Case Unit and the San Diego District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Unit evaluated the case and were able to use forensic genealogy to identify a possible suspect,” said the police statement.
Although this case, like so many others, went cold years ago, justice to the perpetrator can help the victim’s loved ones find closure.
As Sanz said, the suspect “went on to live his life. And that is the thing that makes me the most upset. When I learned that he is just living free and happy, it is upsetting to me that he had that normal life all these years. She had so much life ahead of her that just got stolen.” 
Hopefully, the investigation of McCann would prove to be more fruitful and his skull would be treated with more respect.
Keep Reading: Authorities Seize Whale Poop Worth $1 Million in Sting Operation
- “A Skull Sat on Fireplace Mantel with Sunglasses on It — and Now Police Say It Was Missing Man.”People. Jeff Truesdell. October 27, 2020
- “Skull sporting sunglasses on U.S. man’s mantle identified as missing person.” CTV News. Nicole Bogart. October 27, 2020
- “After 50 Years, a Suspect Emerges in a Cold Murder Case.” The New York Times. Christine Hauser. October 28, 2020
This article originally appeared on The Hearty Soul and has been republished here with permission.