The discovery of an apparent piece of human scalp has puzzled police knocking on doors to try to determine the source.
"At this point it appears to be human," police Capt. James Raymond said Tuesday. "We're taking a leap that the person it belongs to probably is not alive."
Eriberta Salinas said her 4-month-old puppy Clifford brought home the apparent piece of scalp with reddish hair on Sunday from a back yard in the neighborhood.
Police went door to door in the neighborhood in this central Washington town for about five hours Monday to ask neighbors if they had seen any red-haired strangers in the area lately.
Investigators initially thought the scalp might have been taken in the recent car prowl and theft of a kit containing body parts for training cadaver dogs in nearby Kennewick, but that was later ruled out, police said.
The apparent piece of scalp has been sent to a crime laboratory for analysis.
"Someone out there is probably not living, and so that's really what the priority is: Where is this person?" Raymond said.