Bones found in Watershed Park have been identified as those of a teenager who ran away from a hospital where she had been taken for a mental health check nearly nine years ago.

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OLYMPIA — Bones found in Watershed Park have been identified as those of a teenager who ran away from a hospital where she had been taken for a mental health check nearly nine years ago.


Investigators now face a daunting task in trying to determine the cause of death of Katrina Nash, 15, of Olympia, police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said yesterday.


“Right now we don’t even know if we have a crime,” Bjornstad said. “It’s easy to jump to the conclusion she met with foul play somehow. There’s a lot of possible causes of death that can’t be determined from skeletal remains.”


An anthropologist is helping to look for signs of injury from blunt or sharp objects or any other signs of damage to the bones, Thurston County Deputy Coroner Gary Warnock said.


Nash’s skull was spotted Sunday by a man walking in the northern part of the park, leg bones were found Monday about 40 feet away and more bones were uncovered Tuesday in the same marshy area near an Interstate 5 access ramp, police said.


Parents Dottie and David Nash were not available for comment after the identification was established through dental records. Previously they said on their Web site they had never stopped hoping she would return home or be found alive.


On June 18, 1996, Nash, the youngest of nine children, slipped out of a room in the emergency section of Providence St. Peter Hospital, where her mother had brought her because she was acting strangely and the family doctor thought she might be manic-depressive.


Police soon received many reports of someone matching the girl’s description, including one at a truck stop in Hawk’s Prairie in neighboring Lacey and another along the freeway onramp by the park.


Nash was listed on a national register through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, generating scores of tips from around the country, but none amounted to much and no specific individual was ever linked to her disappearance, Bjornstad said.