Mexico finds 14 sets of remains in independence heroes' urns, instead of dozen expected

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Researchers found 14 sets of remains in urns holding the heroes of Mexico's 1810-1821 independence movement rather than the 12 originally reported to be there, authorities said Friday.

Experts who spent more than two months studying the skeletal remains said all 14 were determined to belong to founding fathers — and one founding mother. There are just more of them than expected.

"Undoubtedly there are 14 bodies there. There's no doubt about that," Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio said.

The two "unknown heroes" turned out to be Pedro Moreno and Victor Rosales, both of whom died fighting Spain in 1817 in western Mexico. While hardly unknown, they were less famous than independence leaders like Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende.

Jose Manuel Villalpando, coordinator of this year's bicentennial festivities, said the confusion over the number of those buried apparently started in 1925, when urns holding the remains were sealed in crypts at the Independence monument.

The two lesser-known independence activists were put in urns, but there names were not included in inscriptions on the monument as Hidalgo, Allende and 10 others were.

Many of the urns were sealed and their contents were not visible when soldiers removed them with pomp and ceremony from the monument in May.

A thorough study of the remains was necessary, because of fears the bones may have been jumbled or mislabeled during the 19th and early 20th centuries when they were stored at Mexico City's metropolitan cathedral.

But experts said the forensic characteristics of the remains coincided with the historical figures and their manner of death.

The independence heroes will be honored at a military ceremony and parade Sunday and the urns will be taken from Chapultepec Castle to the National Palace, where they will be put on display.

After that, Moreno and Rosales may finally get what Mexico's national anthem promises those who defend their country: "a tomb of honor for them."

All of the remains will be put back in the Independence monument in 2011.