VALDOSTA -- Members of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and the Jacksonsville, Fla. Sheriff's Department spent Monday searching Oynx Pecan Row Landfill for the body of a missing 10-month-old Alachua County infant.
Jacksonville Assistant Chief Rick Townsend headed the search with Capt. J.D. Yeager of the LCSO at the landfill, located off U.S. Highway 84 West.
Infant Jay-Quan Mosely and his mother, Lynda Jean Wilkes, were last seen April 22. Wilkes' body was discovered and identified Friday in Alachua County after authorities received information leading them to the area.
The search for the baby turned to the landfill Saturday afternoon. Yeager said the LCSO got involved when he received a phone call from the Jacksonville Sheriff's office.
"We got word that the body may have been placed in a dumpster and brought to the Lowndes County landfill," Yeager said. "Sheriff (Ashley) Paulk authorized our office to help in any way."
Paulk said the process in looking for the body had been slow, but landfill authorities knew where to search because the trash is tracked in grids by latitude and longitude.
Townsend said the area they were digging could be anywhere from six to eight feet deep.
At the top of the 100-foot landfill, a crew of 35 law enforcement officers armed with garden rakes and pitchforks sorted through piles of garbage strewn in a more than 50-foot area. By 3 p.m., the crew was on the 16th load of trash. Nearby, a backhoe dug in the 200-by-200 foot area targeted for search.
The Dogs South K-9 Unit from Jesup is assisting in the search. Even with dogs, Paulk said, the search is slow because of items like baby diapers strewn through the landfill.
He said all of the local volunteers were dedicated to the search. Many of the volunteers from the LCSO came from working the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift Sunday night to sorting through the trash looking for the baby, Paulk said.
"Most everyone who volunteered has children, and we will find that baby, if he's here," Paulk said. "We each think, 'What if that was our child?' "
Ron Olive, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, showed the volunteers a video on how to look through a landfill for a body. Olive was involved in a case where a team has successfully located a dismembered body in a landfill. Olive, who came from Phoenix, Ariz., is one of 35 people across the nation who respond in tragedies such as this. All 35 are retired from various local, city, state and federal law enforcement offices.
The search stopped at 5 p.m., and Paulk said he expected 45 local volunteers to join the search today. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will have 20.
To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.
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