Toppled tree on New Haven Green unearths skeleton

Toppled tree on New Haven Green unearths skeleton

POSTED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 1:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 1:04pm

Hurricane Sandy's pre-Halloween fury led to a particularly ghoulish incident on the storied New Haven Green Tuesday, when a massive oak tree toppled over – unearthing a human skeleton in the dirt below.

Gruesome, to be sure. But not a case of foul play, police assured.

"There is no police investigation," Officer David Hartman, a police spokesman said. "This is a long-dead person in a former burial ground — or a current burial ground, I suppose."

The Green, in fact, was the principal place of rest for early residents of the city. In the 19th Century, many of the headstones were moved to the Grove Street Cemetery. But — and fans of the movie Poltergeist will know where this is heading — the bodies were left in the earth.

The massive oak tree was planted in 1909 to honor the 100th birthday of President Lincoln, and it survived 103 years of Connecticut weather.

The New Haven Independent, which first reported the macabre discovery, said a local artist spotted the bones in the root ball of the giant tree, but ultimately figured they couldn't be human. Later Tuesday, a homeless woman made the same discovery and notified police.

The online news organization ran photographs of the discovery, showing "the back of the skull, upside down, with its mouth open [and] still connected to a spine and rib cage."

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