Coroner waits for experts ruling on additional bones found with skull in Berkeley County

Courtesy: Google Earth

HUGER, SC (WCBD) –Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury confirms that they found 55% of Nicole Goodlett’s skeleton in the woods. They started at the place where hunters found her skull back in November of 2015 and worked out. He said there was a lot of vegetation, leaves and debris on the ground covering the bones. They found the bones stretched across a one acre stretch of land. He says they attribute that to animals scattering the bones.

They searched in November for several days using cadaver dogs and were not able to find anything. This time, they widened their search using cadaver dogs again. These dogs are trained using actual body fluids. Salisbury is also the head of the Berkeley County Rescue squad. He said that while on rescue missions, he’s had dogs out on the boat. If there is a body underwater, the oils float to the top and the dogs can track it from the smell. Goodlett disappeared over 2 years ago and the coroner said it is not uncommon for them to find that much of someone’s skeleton even after all that time.

At this time, a Forensic Anthropologist examines the bones searching for more evidence. The expert told Salisbury that he expects to have some more information by sometime next week. Salisbury hopes to have enough forensic evidence to determine a cause of death. He says if the Forensic Anthropologist determines there was some kind of foul play involved, then the coroner’s office will investigate further.

It was hunters who uncovered the skull in the woods behind Cainhoy Elementary School in November of 2015. On Wednesday, News 2 landed an exclusive interview with the teen who found it.

Dashawn Joseph is a senior at Hanahan High School. On November 27, 2015 he was out in the woods when his hunting dog got away from him. He went to track it down and that is when he saw the skull. At first he thought it was fake. When he picked it up, a human tooth fell out. That was when he knew it was real and he called the police. Berkeley County Sheriff’s office took over from there.

On Wednesday, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury sent out this update:



DNA samples allowed a Forensic Anthropologist to identify that the skull belonged to Nicole Goodlett of Spartanburg, SC. She was 28 years old when her family reported her missing on March 12, 2014. They last saw her on Feb. 20, 2014. She is the mother of three children.

Courtesy: WSPA

Courtesy: WSPA

The coroner noted no trauma to the skull so he classified the cause of death as “undetermined.”

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s office leads the investigation with the help of both the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office.

News 2 was out there Wednesday morning when investigators with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office used cadaver dogs to search the wooded area behind Cainhoy Elementary School.

According to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office PIO, the search by all agencies is an effort to try and recover the rest of her body and to bring some closure to her family. He sent out this announcement on Wednesday:


The investigation is still very active.

The following information comes from what the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office and Jerald Howards lawyer told reporters at WSPA.

The person of interest in the case is Nicole Goodlett’s boyfriend and father of her children, Jerald Howard who is a former Clemson football player. In 2014, The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s office arrested Howard for his involvement in Goodlett’s disappearance. He pled guilty to ‘Obstruction of Justice’ because he did not turn over Goodlet’s cell phone when authorities were looking for it. He is now on probation for that charge and his probation officer is based in Charleston county. The Sheriff’s office said when he was arrested in 2014, there were too many missing pieces in the case. Howard is still a person of interest, but no arrest warrants have ever been signed.

Howards lawyer, John Reckenbiel confirmed that his mother lives around 1 mile from where hunters found her skull. His lawyer confirmed Howard is married to another woman. He was married to her when he went to live with Goodlett in the upstate. The lawyer also confirmed that Howard was the last person to have contact with her before she disappeared. He had no explanation for how her body ended up close to 1 mile from Howard’s mother’s home. He says the burden of proof lies with the investigators and he respects the Sheriff’s Office and Solicitor for not arresting someone without sufficient evidence.

A representative for the Goodlett family sent out this statement Wednesday:
“Today are hearts are heavy with the immeasurable sadness this confirmation has caused. Although we are not yet ready to comment on this tragedy, we would like to thank the Berkeley and Spartanburg Counties for their continued work to solve this case. This is a step towards closure. but there is more work to be done. Our family PR representative, Jada Goodlett Russell, will manage future media communications.”

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