Detectives in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, are trying to identify a human skull discovered near the Uplands Golf and Ski Club Sunday afternoon, but for now are unsure whether it belonged to a male or female.
Nor do they know how long it has been there.
"It could have been a year, it could have been longer," Detective Sergeant John Braybrook of the York Regional Police homicide squad told reporters at the scene.
Also unclear is whether the dead person met foul play, took their own life, or perished by some other means. Conceivably the person was a transient, Det. Sgt. Braybrook said.
The skull was found by a passerby out for a walk, close to the golf course and near the ramp that connects Bathurst Street to the eastbound lanes of Hwy. 407. The person took a photograph and sent it to police, who cordoned off the scene and launched an investigation.
The coroner was also summoned and later in the day, detectives confirmed the skull was human.
Search-and-rescue personnel are now scouring the wooded, hilly terrain. The rest of the remains could have been scattered by wild animals, Det. Sgt. Braybrook said.
Dental work, cross-referenced against different databanks, will be the first line of inquiry, he said.
DNA testing, which takes longer, would be the next step.
Police will be at the scene all day, Det. Sgt. Braybrook said
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 1-866-287-5025 ext. 7865 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.