In 1966, two California teenagers became fascinated with mummies and archeology. They wanted to make a find for themselves and had heard that the Indian tribes of northern Mexico had a tradition of burying their dead in caves. The cool, dry air would then naturally mummify the bodies. The pair spent over a month exploring the caves of Chihuahua, Mexico. The pair found two mummified corpses in a cave in Chihuahua. One was that of a young woman, the other of a baby girl. The teenagers removed the bodies from the cave and smuggled them across the border to Lemon Grove, California. They could not display their find or turn the bodies over to a museum due to the illegal acquisition. At that juncture they drafted into the US Army and they asked a friend if they could store the box in her garage. She said yes and there the mummies sat for 14 years.
14 years later, a woman cleaning out her garage, found the hidden mummies and immediately contacted the authorities, assuming a murder had occurred. The authorities completed their examination and concluded that the remains had been deceased for a centuries. Carbon dating examination confirmed that the mummies died sometime between AD 1040 and AD 1260.
The police tracked down the two teens, who were now adults and questioned them to determine the background of the discovery. It was decided to donate the mummies to the San Diego Museum of Man. This was only possible because the Mexican government decided to grant America with ownership of the mummies despite the fact that the mummies were of Mexican Indian origin.
The Lemon Grove mummies were extremely well preserved. Hair still clung to the head of the 15 year old and also the ears and nose of the baby remained intact. The mummification process was carried out naturally by the cold, dry desert air which dehydrated the bodies, in addition to restricting bacteria from housing the flesh and decomposing it. Researchers suggest that the bodies were not purposefully buried based on the position of the bodies curled up and huddled close together, suggesting they died in their sleep and were then naturally mummified.
The mummies were determined to have died in their sleep. No other cause of death has been determined.
Deem, J. M. (n.d.). Mummy Tombs. Retrieved from Lemon Grove Girl: Featured Mummies Around the World @ Mummy Tombs: http://www.mummytombs.com/featured/lemongrove.html
Sullivan, K. (2016, November 7). Ancient Origins. Retrieved from The Lemon Grove Mummies: Ancient Corpses from Mexican Cave found in California Garage: http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/lemon-grove-mummies-ancient-corpses-mexican-cave-found-california-garage-006956