An unusual curiosity uncovered in basement of Flemington antique shop

FLEMINGTON -- When Ken Nerger and his wife, Susan, opened Ye Olde Antique & Curiosity Shop in downtown Flemington in January, they went on the lookout for all kinds of odd and valuable objects and collectibles to sell in the store. But while cleaning...

An unusual curiosity uncovered in basement of Flemington antique shop

FLEMINGTON -- When Ken Nerger and his wife, Susan, opened Ye Olde Antique & Curiosity Shop in downtown Flemington in January, they went on the lookout for all kinds of odd and valuable objects and collectibles to sell in the store.

But while cleaning out the basement of the 19th century building on Friday, Ken Nerger came across an oddity he hadn't expected -- what appeared to be large human bones that were more than 100 years old.

Nerger contacted the police, and they agreed it looked like human bones, he said.

But after examining the bones, Hunterdon County Medical Examiner Steven Diamond determined the bones were "non-human," according to a statement issued by Hunterdon Prosecutor Anthony Kearns and Flemington Police Chief Jerry Rotella. Exactly what animal it was could not be determined, Nerger said.

Nerger, who has operated the store for less than two months, said that while cleaning the basement, he came across a "huge pile of rocks." 

As he removed the rocks, he said, he initially came across small bones, but later discovered "bigger bones that looked like skeletal remains" buried in "a shallow grave" among the rocks.

"I called the police," he said. "I said 'I can't believe there are bones down there," noting that he found what appeared to be a femur and a rib.

"I thought, 'This could be an unsolved mystery from 100 years ago," he said.

When the police arrived, "They all thought it was human bones from 100 years ago," Nerger noted.

But the medical examiner determined, "It's not human," Nerger said.

If the bones had turned out to be human, "It wouldn't be the first time I've found human remains," Nerger said.

"I do a lot of digging under old houses" to find old bottles and other antiques and "you do come upon bodies" that were buried, he said.

"This piqued my curiosity the most because it was inside a building," he said.

Ben Horowitz may be reached at bhorowitz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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