On Monday morning, Phoenix police officers, clad in Tyvek suits, began the first day of an exhaustive landfill search to find the body of Christine Mustafa. The Phoenix woman has been missing since May.
"Our investigators have done a meticulous job getting evidence, and we do have evidence that points to she was taken to a landfill," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Alan Pfohl.
Any trash from the area Mustafa lived in ends up in the City of Phoenix SR 85 Landfill.
The EPA requires landfills keep specific records of where trash goes on any given day. Investigators were able to narrow down the search from 2,600 acres to an area that measures 500 feet by 120 feet, and is 14 feet deep.
"The heavy machines use GPS out there so they know exactly where that trash has been dumped and pushed," said Pfohl.
The trash will be sectioned off into dump trucks, and spread out onto an empty field, where thirty police officers will meticulously sift through everything with the help of cadaver dogs.
"Our searchers only have one chance. Once the dirt is sifted through, if we miss her, and that dirt gets carried away, we're done," said Pfohl.
The search is expected to last up to nine weeks.
There is always the possibility that police won't find anything, as was the case in 2012 when police searched through a landfill looking for the remains of Jhessye Shockley, a Glendale girl who went missing. Police believe her mother, Jerice Hunter, killer her, put her body in a suitcase and dumped it into the trash.
After a 10 week search, nothing was found.
"There is always that possibility. We are optimistic, because of the detectives work they have done, the area we were able to identify is relatively small compared to that of the one we searched for Shockley," said Pfohl.
More than anything, they are hoping to find closure for Mustafa's family.
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