America's Oldest Unsolved Murder May Be Solved

Jamestown researchers think they've identified remains

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 27, 2013 5:42 PM CDT | Updated Jun 30, 2013 6:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Colonial America's oldest unsolved mystery involved remains that have been known only as "JR102C," or "JR" for short, but their owner's true name may have finally been uncovered. The bones were found, buried in a coffin, under an old roadbed in Jamestown in 1996, WTKR reports. Researchers knew the skeletal remains belonged to a 19-year-old man who may have been from Europe, who had probably been living in Jamestown for a few years, and who likely had the status of a gentleman (because of the coffin). His right leg bones were twisted and broken below the knee, and a lead musket ball and lead shot were found there; researchers determined that's what killed him. (The ammunition would have ruptured a major artery, NPR explains.)

Now, the Jamestown Rediscovery Project says, new research has uncovered a 1624 duel between George Harrison and Richard Stephens. The remains may belong to Harrison, who was shot in the leg and died from the wound. "This wound shows that the person was killed by getting hit in the side of the knee. So in a duel, you stand sideways and this would come through like that," says a director for the project. However, one mystery still remains: “That’s a combat round. It’s almost like a shotgun but it also has a main bullet. So you wouldn’t think unless somebody was cheating in the duel that they would have that kind of a load." It's not the only recent nefarious discovery at Jamestown—scientists found evidence of cannibalism, as well.

Queen Elizabeth II and Dick Cheney walk past a cannon as they arrive at the fort at Jamestown Settlement museum in Williamsburg, Va, Friday, May 4, 2007.
Queen Elizabeth II and Dick Cheney walk past a cannon as they arrive at the fort at Jamestown Settlement museum in Williamsburg, Va, Friday, May 4, 2007.   (AP Photo/Jim Young, POOL)
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