Search for Nepinak's body 'horrendous thing for any family to go through'
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:34PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:12PM EDT
Winnipeg investigators are planning the search operation of a massive landfill for the remains of a woman who may have been murdered by an alleged serial killer.
Crews continued on Thursday to work out the logistics behind the arduous task of combing the Brady Road landfill for the body of Tanya Nepinak, who has been missing since last September.
She was 31 when she disappeared.
Chief Keith McCaskill said Winnipeg police have high hopes of locating the body despite the challenges associated with the search. He said the search could offer some level of closure to Nepinak’s grieving family.
“Can you imagine having your own loved one possibly being in the Brady Road landfill site?” McCaskill told reporters. “That’s a horrendous thing for any family to go through.”
Experts said it will be extremely difficult, but not impossible, to find the human remains. Police are beginning their search with an area of the landfill roughly the size of two football fields.
Before the search can begin, an excavation team must first dig out nearly a year’s worth of garbage from the site.
Once the excavation team is done, a team of nearly 250 people will take part in the large-scale search.
Mirjana Roksandic, a University of Winnipeg anthropologist, said the search will be unlike any other in recent memory because the body is buried under eight metres of compressed garbage.
“Bone is very resilient …, especially bone that is surrounded by soft tissue, so you can expect to find some chunks of bone if you are lucky. You can expect to find small fragments of bone if you are not lucky,” she said on Thursday.
“I think they have a pretty clear idea where to look, and what the time frame is. But it’s still a substantial area and it will still have to be done with a fine-tooth comb.”
The search is expected to be the largest of its kind to ever take place in Manitoba, and will be comparable in size to landfill searches in Montreal last year, and a search associated with the Robert Pickton investigation in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
The search could take months, even a year, to complete.
Investigators believe Nepinak was killed and her body dumped into a garbage bin that was eventually emptied into the landfill, located west of the city.
In June, 52-year-old Shawn Lamb was charged with second-degree murder in connection to Nepinak’s death.
Lamb has also been charged in connection to the deaths of two other women, 18-year-old Lorna Blacksmith and 25-year-old Carolyn Sinclair.
Blacksmith’s body was found in June behind an abandoned house, and Sinclair’s body was found inside a dumpster in March. Both bodies were wrapped in plastic.
All three women were of aboriginal descent.