Hunter Finds Human Skull in Sweetwater County

Law enforcement investigation underway to trace its owner

The human skull found Saturday by hunter Marc Zancanella near Wamsutter (denoted by circle on map) in Sweetwater County was in the same vicinity where David Williams was last seen at the time of his disappearance in 1980. (Graphic courtesy of Desirée Tinoco)

By Jennifer Kocher 

Special to the Wyoming Truth

The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a human skull discovered by a hunter on Saturday. 

Marc Zancanella happened upon the skull after shooting a bull elk in hunting area 118, near Wamsutter. The elk staggered for about 200 yards up a sagebrush draw before falling over, Zancanella shared on his Facebook page. As Zancanella neared the downed animal, he saw a flash of white that he determined to be a human skull.

Zancanella immediately called the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, who declined to share any additional details. 

Detective Sergeant Michelle Hall with the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office told the Wyoming Truth in an email Sunday that an active investigation is underway to determine the skull’sorigins and declined to provide further comment. Likewise, Zancanella declined to comment on his finding. 

Currently, there are six people who have been reported missing in Sweetwater County, according to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation’s Missing Person database

Given the location of the skull, Desirée Tinoco, executive director of Missing People of Wyoming, speculated it might belong to David Williams. 

At the time of his disappearance on Nov. 11, 1980, Williams was last seen at a service station, in Creston Junction, east of Wamsutter, where he made a phone call before heading south on Wyoming Highway 789 in a brown Chevrolet Blazer with an unidentified Caucasian male, according to Williams’ case record in National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS).

Williams was never seen or heard from again, and his body has not been recovered. 

If the skull does belong to Williams, the discovery would mark the 43rd anniversary of his disappearance, Tinoco noted. 

Other missing people in the area include Terry Meader, whose vehicle was discovered in the Pine Mountain area, about 40 miles south of Rock Springs, in October 2018. Meader, then 79, was out scouting deer when he disappeared.

Older missing person cases include Clifford Russell Haux, who was last seen in Rock Springs in November 2003, as well as 38-year-old Rudolph David Fantin, who disappeared in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir-area in summer of 1991.

The skull may also belong to David Vernon Lovely, who was last spotted in the Fort Bridger-area during a cross-country motorcycle trip in 1985. Lovely, then 19, was trailing his family’s moving truck, when his motorcycle broke down and he got separated from his family, according to DCI. 

Lovely’s motorcycle was located nine days later in an isolated area off South Baxter Road, west of the Sweetwater County Airport in Rock Springs, according to his case file listed on the Charley Project, a national nonprofit database profiling cold cases. 

Another possibility is Amber Elizabeth Scholz, who disappeared at age 21 in 1981. According to DCI, Scholz had been in the midst of a custody dispute with her ex-husband, John Burkhardt, when she vanished from her apartment in Rock Springs. 

This story will continue to be updated as more information is forthcoming. 

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