Umina Beach jawbone: Bones found on NSW Central Coast beach may belong to boy killed by shark
A human jawbone found on a beach three years ago is now believed to have belonged to a 14-year-old boy who was killed by a shark in the 1930s.
The blackened skull fragment was discovered in June 2020 by a dog walker on Umina Beach on NSW’s Central Coast.
It was initially thought the jawbone belonged to 15-year-old Donald Montgomery whose body was never found after he fell overboard while on a boat in Ettalong in July, 1940.
Authorities believed Donald drowned along with his father Samuel who dove in to rescue the boy.
While the body of the father, a 47-year-old widower and draughtsman on the railways, was quickly recovered, Donald’s remains were never found.
Dr Jen Raymond, a research coordinator with the NSW Police Forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command, said a good DNA sample extracted from the bone has now debunked the theory it belonged to Donald.
It was initially thought the jawbone (pictured) belonged to 15-year-old Donald Montgomery whose body was never found after he fell overboard while on a boat in Ettalong in July 1940
‘We originally thought we had solved the sad story of a 15-year-old boy boating with dad when they ran into trouble and both drowned,’ she told the Sunday Telegraph.
‘They never found the son. It was the right place, right time, right age. In older times that might have been enough to satisfy a coroner.
‘But now through DNA testing there is another potential candidate that still could be in contention. It’s another sad story of a 14-year-old boy taken by a shark in the 1930s.’
The blackened skull fragment was discovered in June 2020 by a dog walker on Umina Beach on NSW’s Central Coast
At the time the bone was found, police launched a search of the area while pathologists confirmed the jaw fragment was human.
Detective Inspector Ritchie Sim said the bone was black in colour due to a mixture of geological and environmental effects.
He said during the investigation police were able to exclude various missing persons.
New genetic genealogy research helped put Dr Raymond’s team on the right track to solving the mystery behind the jawbone.
Genetic genealogy is a new forensic technique used to identify missing people and suspects when no match is available via current criminal DNA databases.
Scientists can search through large family relationships up to the fourth or fifth cousins while previous familial testing could only determine parent, child and sibling connections.
Dr Raymond said research done on the teeth showed the remains belonged to someone before the time of fluoridation in the 1950s.
She said the team is waiting for conclusive results after DNA was sent out for further testing to confirm the identity.
A large search of the area where the jawbone was found was executed at the time but no further remains were located