A Washington, D.C. mother may never bury her 18-year-old daughter, whose body is believed to be entombed in dozens of feet of trash somewhere in a Virginia landfill.
One of the five people charged with murdering Latisha Frazier told police that he helped beat, strangle and dump her body in a Washington, D.C. garbage bin. Investigators said that bin was likely emptied into a massive landfill in Chester, Va.
But police refuse to conduct a search, insisting it would take upwards of six months for officers to rummage through the 800-acre, 100-foot deep coverage area. The search would also expose search crews to toxic levels of methane and other dangerous chemicals, they said.
The teen, a single mother, went missing from southeast Washington, D.C. on Aug. 2, 2010. Police got a break in Frazier’s case in January when her sister began to receive taunting Facebook messages which she forwarded to media and police, according to Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG. After news stations aired stories about the messages, a witness came forward and said a man named Brian Gaither was involved in the teen’s disappearance.
Gaither was later arrested on an unrelated charge, but confessed that he and others lured Frazier to an apartment to attack her for stealing $900 from one of their friends.
Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York police officer and prosecutor, called it unusual for investigators not to take all measures to recover a victim’s body.
“The police took great risks and spared no expense and literally people got injured while they stood on a pile in Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, N.Y., searching for remains of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks,” O’Donnell told the Associated Press.
Investigators might have been more likely to excavate the landfill if Frazier didn’t belong to the “small world” of blue-collar workers, according to her father, Barry Campbell.
Similarly, Eugene Ohm, a public defender who had suggested that the search, drew comparisons between Frazier’s case and that of D.C. intern Chandra Levy, whose 2001 disappearance sparked a year-long search for her body.
But D.C. Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham dismissed the comparison, telling the AP that, “there was never any landfill associated with that case in any way, shape or form…You don’t have a fair comparison.”
The investigators’ decision not to excavate was backed by experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who said the risk of chemical poisoning and the sheer size of the colossal landfill would have made it nearly impossible to effectively hunt for the teen’s remains.
Nonetheless, Frazier’s mother remains in limbo.
“We can’t do no closure right now,” Frazier told the AP. “It means a lot to have my baby.”