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From the Book:

It was then that Bernard called in a team of specialized canine handlers. Using human remains detection dogs in that environment would be one of the quickest and best approaches to locating any evidence, most significantly the child’s decapitated head. The Missouri Search and Rescue group, an all-volunteer, non-profit dog/handler unit, responded to the scene. These canine teams hold certifications that meet or exceed the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal Detector Guidelines (SWGDOG) recommended guidelines, so their assistance is invaluable to investigators. It was dense, rugged terrain to navigate, especially in the dark of night, but the teams searched anyway. The handlers tied luminous chemical sticks to the dogs’ collars to keep them in sight, and together they searched the stifling, thick woods ripe with garbage and decay. The K9 handlers said it was the roughest brush they had ever searched. Human scents are, in a way, like liquids in that they “flow” to low-lying areas and “pool” into a vapor that lingers. Cadaver dogs are sent to the most likely places where this would occur, tracking the scent both on the ground and in the air. Because of their specialized training, cadaver dogs can identify crime scenes even if the body has since been moved; unfortunately, this time, the area would prove to be only a repository for the child’s remains and not the scene of the crime. Because the initial search didn’t reveal anything, the group disbanded with the plan to recheck the area in daylight.

Now midnight, the search was called off because the darkness worked against them. The plan was that the search teams would all re-group at the church at 7:00 a.m. It would not be the usual Sunday gathering one comes to expect in a church parking lot. There would be no affirmations from the “Amen pew” in this investigation for four long years. Yet, despite the late hour, officers could hear children laughing and playing in the distance. Was there a connection between this tiny victim and those whose voices echoed in the night?

Because this was not an easily accessible or well-known area, Sgt. Bernard thought the child was most likely local and that a missing child would be reported sooner or later. Someone would call the police in search of a little girl lost. Who wouldn’t report a missing child? She was young, and statistics show that the younger the victim, the closer the killer is to the family — a parent, boyfriend, or immediate family member. Young children are usually protected,, and stranger killings are uncommon. Best guess, given the level of brutality, one could assume either the child's father or the mother's boyfriend was the suspect. A female rarely resorts to that level of mutilation, especially a child. Surely someone, somewhere, knew something and would come forward. As soon as the child was identified and detectives determined who had care and control of her at the time of death, the case would quickly be solved, or so it was thought. Time proved it wrong.


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