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Rat-Chewed Skeleton in Wall Suggests Fatal Misstep

Remains identified as those of Houston homeowner Mary Cerruti
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2018 10:05 AM CST
Rat-Chewed Skeleton in Wall Suggests Fatal Misstep
The former home of Mary Cerruti, where her remains were discovered, is seen on March 5, 2017.   (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

(Newser) – A years-old mystery in Texas has been solved—at least in part. Three years after Houston resident Mary Cerruti seemingly disappeared, authorities have confirmed it was her skeleton discovered in the wall of her former home by new tenants last March, alongside a pair of glasses that resembled those Cerruti often wore, reports the Houston Chronicle. It isn't clear how the positive identification was made—Cerruti's closest living relatives are cousins, which made DNA comparisons difficult, per KTRK—nor is it clear how Cerruti died and came to rest in a small space some 9 feet beneath an attic floor, perhaps not in that order. The leading theory appears to be that Cerruti fell through a floorboard in the attic and became wedged in a 2-foot-wide space behind a bathroom wall, the Chronicle reported last June.

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Part of a broken floorboard was found with Cerruti's skeletal remains, which had been chewed and pulled apart by rats. A leg bone healing from a recent break suggests Cerruti—believed to be 61 when she died—might've already been in pain, perhaps her balance affected, at the time of the suspected fall. A cause of death couldn't be determined from Cerruti's decomposed remains, but police say foul play isn't suspected. Still, Cerruti's cousin, Nancy Stewart Stoddard, believes "somebody put her there" behind the wall around the time she vanished. Whatever happened, Cerruti probably would've tried to figure it out because she loved mysteries, a friend tells the Chronicle. "I think she would have thought that was kind of cool that she created the mystery," she says. More on the case here. (Read more bones stories.)

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