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Skeletal remains were found in an abandoned well behind this house in Dresden, Ont., in April. Police have identified them as male who apparently died in the well. ((Jim Lagogianes/CBC))

Little by little, police in southwestern Ontario are getting to the bottom of a decades-old mystery surrounding bones found at the bottom of an abandoned well.

An autopsy has revealed the skeletal remains found in the well behind a rented home in Dresden, Ont., are those of a man.

"There wasn't any obvious signs of trauma to the bones that we recovered," said Insp. George Flikweert of the Chatham-Kent Police Service. 

'The question of how and why this person ended up there might never be known.' —Insp. George Flikweert

Police have not positively identified the remains, or said how old they are, but hope to have answers by mid-July.

A man renovating the deck behind a red brick house on Sydenham Street in Dresden stumbled upon the covered well and the remains in April.

Longtime residents in the community about 30 kilometres north of the city of Chatham immediately speculated that the skeleton might be that of Clint Brown.

Man died after landing in well

Brown was a 63-year-old bachelor who lived not far from the well and disappeared in July 1975.

Neighbours said Brown had gone to the doctor one day and simply never returned. He was never heard from again.

Police said while the autopsy does not say how or why the man ended up in the four-metre deep well, it does tell them that he died after landing in the well, not before.

"It tells us a lot that there wasn't any trauma, so that puts to rest some of the rumours that were prevalent in the town of Dresden" said Flikweert.

Forensic experts are now comparing the skeleton's dental structure with Brown's dental records.

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Police said it might never be known how or why the man ended up at the bottom of the well, which is four metres deep and 2½ metres wide. ((Jim Lagogianes/CBC))

Missing man was former POW

"We've tracked his military records and have been able to obtain some kind of dental records," said Flikweert, who said Brown had served in the Canadian military and fought in the Second World War.

He was taken prisoner in Italy and was held for 18 months as a prisoner of war.

Flikweert said police continue to interview those who knew Brown, and have spoken with former investigators who worked on the case when Brown disappeared.

Flikweert said that there are bound to be many questions, even if police can make a positive identification of the remains.

The answer to "how and why this person ended up there might never be known," he said.