Human remains ID’d as missing hiker

Human remains found by a duck hunter have been identified as missing Juneau hiker Teri Heuscher, police say.

 

Heuscher, 53, was last seen on June 24. Her partial remains, including her skull and jaw, were found on Monday at the base of Thunder Mountain. They couldn’t immediately be identified, so they were sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for identification.

Examiners were able to identify Heuscher using dental records, according to a Friday afternoon release from the Juneau Police Department. Heuscher’s family was notified Friday.

JPD spokesman Lt. David Campbell said Heuscher was found in a makeshift campsite.

“There was a campsite, a tent and some kitchen utensils. It wasn’t very extensive,” Campbell said in a phone interview Friday with the Empire.

Investigators have been back to the campsite again to unearth any clues as to the cause of death. The camp lies about 40 minutes from the trailhead and near a trail, though Campbell said police are withholding the exact location to preserve the integrity of the scene.

Police don’t yet know how Heuscher died, but preliminary results “indicate that foul play is not suspected,” JPD’s release states. Heuscher’s remains didn’t show any signs of serious bodily trauma. That, and the fact that the body wasn’t found in the middle of the woods, but relatively close to a trail, has lead investigators to believe the death may not have involved foul play.

“There wasn’t anything obvious in the remains that would indicate any trauma, so at this point, we don’t suspect any foul play,” said Campbell.

Heuscher was last seen hiking at the beginning of Under Thunder Trail at the base of Thunder Mountain. Her car was parked near the trailhead on Jennifer Drive. An extensive search to find her was called off days after she was reported missing.

On Monday at about 4 p.m., JPD received a report from a duck hunter that they had found a deceased person in the woods. JPD found Heuscher’s remains at a campsite about 40 minutes from the trailhead.

Heuscher’s remains had deteriorated considerably by the time police had located them. It was not initially possible to determine the gender or cause of death.

The investigation into Heuscher’s death is ongoing, JPD said.

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