MT JUDEA — Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said a human skull was found Monday morning in Newton County and it might be remains of a Garland County woman reported missing in June.
The skull was located by a local resident southwest of Sam's Throne near Mt. Judea on U.S. Forest Service land.
Wheeler said the skull was the only thing found so far but investigators were continuing to search the area for other remains.
"At this point we don't have an official identification on who this is," Wheeler said, "The skull will be submitted to the Medical Examiner's Office to try and obtain an identity or compare it to known missing person cases."
Wheeler said the skull was found near an area that was the subject of a multi-week, large-scale search for a missing woman in June.
Pamela Samuels-Lauro, 57, was reporting missing from Garland County on June 3 and her pickup was found near Sam's Throne a few days later, prompting authorities to search the area extensively for weeks.
"We can't say if this is Pamela or not, but I have notified the family of the information just in case," Wheeler said.
Samuels-Lauro was said to be traveling with an older, small, white Chihuahua-terrier mix dog.
The dog was located walking along Highway 123 near the entrance to Sam’s Throne Campground about two weeks after she went missing.
Wheeler said a note found in Samuels-Lauro’s pickup said she was looking for the Throne of Samuel. In addition, a map torn from a Bible showed the location “Judea” circled.
Wheeler said a search is being conducted of the area where the skull was found in hopes of finding more remains. The area is steep and rugged, so searchers are being shuttled from the command post in Mt. Judea by all-terrain vehicles.
Wheeler said they hope to have cadaver dogs searching the area within a few days and more manpower will be applied as it becomes available.