What started with a dysfunctional family feud over money ended when a burned body was found in a fire pit in southern Minnesota, but investigators say that corpse wasn't the only one they found there. Now, they hope DNA evidence will help heat up a cold case.
It's been four years since investigators first found a body burning in a fire pit. That grisly discovery answered the question of what happened to Edwin Hawes, who had been missing for several days -- but it also gave detectives a new question to ponder.
While sifting through the charred remnants inside the smoldering pit, investigators unwittingly uncovered a second mystery when they uncovered charred bones that didn't belong to Hawes.
"You usually don't come across something like this. It's not that common. It's happened before, but this is a first for me," Derek Woodford, special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, told FOX 9 News.
Woodford has been on the case for the past four years. He says investigators expected to find Edwin Hawes' bones on his younger brother's farm after the elder Hawes disappeared from his home in Andover.
Andrew Hawes was convicted of killing his brother over money from a family inheritance, but detectives were flabbergasted when they found a second set of bones in the fire pit. That leads them to wonder if Andrew Haws had killed before.
"Our concern is: How did this other body get down there, and what happened to that person?" Woodford said.
Of course, Woodward asked both Andrew Hawes and his sister, Elizabeth, about the bones. Both are serving life sentences in their brother's death, and neither has been helpful in solving the case.
For the first time, the BCA invited FOX 9 News into their lab to view the charred bone fragments of a jaw, eye socket and leg. Even though the biggest shard is less than an inch long, forensic technicians have been able to come up with a DNA profile; however, they still can't tell if the victim was a man or a woman. So far, the remains have not matched any missing persons cases in the area.
"What we are hoping for in this cold case is anything that would lead us to a direction on who these bones belong to," Woodford said. "Obviously, it's a family member or loved one or brother or sister of someone. We need to know who that is."
That's why Woodward is asking anyone who reported al loved one missing between 2003 and 2008 that may have had contact with Hawes to give either the BCA or the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office a call.
Since Andrew Hawes ran a landscaping business, one theory is that the bones belong to a former worker or someone he had a run-in with.
Anyone who wishes to contact investigators about this case can do so by calling the BCA tip line at 1-877-996-6222 or the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office at 507-831-1376. Tipsters can also send an e-mail or submit an anonymous tip using this form [PDF] .