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Coroner, residents speak out following found skeletal remains

Remains found at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rayne
Posted at 8:38 PM, May 19, 2023

RAYNE, La. — The Rayne community is responding following the finding of skeletal remains, a note with symbols, and other items oddly arranged outside St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church Thursday morning.

David Comeaux grew up in Acadiana and has lived in Rayne for the last two years — just down the street from the church. He, like many of his neighbors, is speechless.

"I couldn't believe someone could do this t's the first I've heard of someone doing this, I can't believe it, absolutely crazy," Comeaux told KATC. "The Catholics believe that we are dust and upon death that dust should be returned so that's the importance of the burial process, no one wants to see their loved one's grave defiled."

KATC spoke with other neighbors who did not want to go on camera. Given the circumstances and what was found, many want answers — some speculating this is the result of kids pulling a prank, others are simply freaked out. According to police chief Carroll Stelly, the evidence thus far shows no threat to public safety.

More information, such as the suspects, a motive, the contents of the note found, or whether charges will be pressed, is not being released by police at this time. The department is working with the Acadia Parish Coroner's Office to get some answers.

KATC reached out to parish coroner, Dr. Mark Dawson. He said the skeleton is more than 50 years old and belongs to one adult, but the sex cannot be determined since the pelvic bone has disintegrated. According to Dawson, his office will not be conducting further testing because there is no DNA to compare it to. The bones will stay at nearby Gossen Funeral Home for several months if someone would like to try to claim a relation to them.

The Diocese released a statement, reading in part that they hope the remains are able to be identified and returned back to their final resting place in a "dignified and respectful manner."

Police urge anyone with information to make a report, as it is crucial to this case. KATC will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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