Investigators here have a mystery on their hands—a human skull and a chilling four-page letter that appears to be a firsthand account of the perils of illegal border crossings.
The calcified skull was found Tuesday morning by a man rummaging for recyclables through a trash can next to a bus stop in the 700 block of Garfield Avenue in Montebello, police said.
Attached to it was the letter, written in Spanish and dated Monday, Dec. 18, said Montebello police Detective Hayde Garcia.
It describes what appears to be the writer’s harrowing journey through the desert while crossing illegally into the United States, Garcia said.
“The letter talked about the journey coming across the desert and how people just die in the middle of the desert because it’s a tough journey,” she said. “He wrote about his journey and what he saw along the way—different artifacts that people leave behind, like backpacks.”
Garcia said whoever wrote the letter also described seeing a decomposing body lying in the desert.
“It doesn’t say when he discovered the skull, but it sounded recent,” she said. “We don’t know why he brought it with him. He attached the letter, so he was expecting somebody to find the skull.”
Police believe whoever wrote the letter was probably a man, because it was signed with a man’s first name. They did not release that name.
But it appears the letter-writer simply wanted to let authorities know about a person who died so anonymously in the desert.
“I think he was saying that this person probably died trying to come into the U.S.,” said Garcia. “He didn’t know whether this is a male or female, and the family doesn’t know where he or she is.”