German school students find human skull in Cologne forest | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.05.2017
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German school students find human skull in Cologne forest

The gruesome discovery will hopefully shed new light on the mysterious identity of a dismembered torso which local youths found last year on the banks of the Rhine River.

A group of young German students stumbled across a human skull in a forest during a class trip, police announced on Wednesday.

The fifth graders were walking through a small patch of forest in Cologne's Vogelsang neighborhood when they discovered bone fragments from the torso's arms and legs. The young children then discovered a human skull.

"The parts were not buried, they lay in the open only covered with leaves," investigators told German tabloid "Bild."

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Police DNA tested the remains and found they matched a headless torso found last year, also by young children. In July, local teenagers discovered the headless, armless torso when they opened a plastic bag that had washed up on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne.

Polizei Köln - Männlicher Torso im Plastiksack - Zeugenaufruf (Polizei Köln)

The sweatshirt on the body found last July

At the time, police were only able to identify the victim as a light-skinned man between the ages of 20 and 35, national daily Die Welt reported at the time.

Police said they hope the new discovery will shed more light on that case.

"The bone fragments are currently being analyzed by the coroner," a spokesman for Cologne police told DW. "But we haven't gotten much information yet."

Investigators searched the Vogelsang park but did not find any further remains.

Polizei Köln - Männlicher Torso im Plastiksack - Zeugenaufruf (Polizei Köln)

The dead man wore these shoes

Skeleton incomplete

The skeleton of the unknown man is still incomplete and investigators still don't know who he could be.

His clothes and physical characteristics did not fit any missing persons cases and his DNA was not in the police database until his dismembered torso was first discovered last year.

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The patch of forest lies between a dog training facility and a sports field, with the skull and bones lying just meters from a trampoline, local paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported.

The site is reportedly not visible from the street, and the presence of a rotten mattress, bedding and an empty moss-filled sports bag indicated someone had stayed there.

Police told the local paper they were investigating whether it was the scene of the murder.

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