WARTBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — A skull found and put on a man’s fireplace mantel has been identified as that of a missing Morgan County man.
According to District Attorney General Russell Johnson, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office retrieved the skull in March 2019 after being told about it. Sheriff Wayne Potter says it has since been in the possession of the lab for processing since that time.
A DNA test by the Knox County Regional Forensics Center and the University of Tennessee Department of Anthropology found it belonged to Junior Willie McCann.
Potter said when he started office in 2018, there were six missing persons cases.
A year into office, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office got a break in the McCann case.
Potter said McCann had been missing since September 2012.
According to the missing person’s report, which was filed by his brother, McCann walked out of the house, but never came back.
“According to his brother in the report, it was nothing uncommon for him to walk off from the house. He reported him four days after he’d left,” Potter said.
In March 2019, Potter got a call that a skull wearing sunglasses was sitting on the fireplace mantel of the person who currently lived in McCann’s old house, which was in the Gobey area.
“Apparently his dog brought the skull up on the porch that morning. I know there’s speculation out there that it had been there for a year and a half. That is incorrect. It had only been there a few hours when we got the call,” Potter said.
Potter said several agencies helped search the property of McCann’s former home, including cadaver dogs, but nothing else was found.
He said at that point, he knew the skull could’ve belonged to two people who had been missing in the same area: 79-year-old McCann or Kevin Hamby, who had been missing since Nov. 2017.
Potter wouldn’t know who the skull belonged to until forensics came back.
“The forensic center, they came over and they was able to give me kind of an idea that this was an older gentleman, just by basically looking at it, and so forth, and it was a male. So we kind of knew of which one we thought it was. It wasn’t until Friday when we got the DNA results back that we were able to identify it,” Potter said.
When that positive identification came back Friday, Potter said he was able to give the family, such as McCann’s daughter, some peace.
“You know she’s got closure today. She still doesn’t know what happened, because we don’t know what happened. But, at least she has some form of closure. They’re going to be able to have a traditional funeral,” Potter said.
Potter said the missing person’s case is closed, but they won’t know what happened to McCann unless his other remains are found or more information comes to light.
Morgan County Sheriff Wayne Potter is requesting that anyone with information related to McGann’s death or other persons who remain missing, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 423-346-6262.