COVINA, Calif. -- Three human skulls that wound up in a mobile home park trash bin and became a 12-year-old girl's show-and-tell project belonged to a man who brought them home from Europe decades ago, authorities said Saturday.
The girl, who was not identified, claims she obtained the skulls from her grandmother, who allegedly found them in the trash at her Duarte mobile home park, police said.
The girl took the skulls to Royal Oak Intermediate School in Covina on Friday, asked her teacher if they were real and if she could use them for a science project.
School officials called police.
Catherine Knoll of Duarte contacted Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies Saturday after reading a newspaper article and said the skulls had belonged to her late husband, said sheriff's Lt. David Brown.
"She said her late husband, William Knoll, had acquired the skulls in Europe in 1967 and returned to the United States with them," he said. "She was moving so she decided she didn't want them any more. She disposed of them in the nearest trash container, which is where they were found."
"All three are almost 100 percent intact," Covina police Sgt. Tim Doonan said. "They're missing mandibles but have the majority of their teeth."
John Roach, superintendent at Charter Oak Unified School District, saw the skulls before they were taken away by police.
"They looked real to me," Roach said.
The skulls are scheduled to be examined next week, as early as Monday, by a coroner's anthropologist, said county coroner's Lt. David Smith.