MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Deputies didn't find what they expected when they searched the yard near a home on Granto Road in Madison County in connection with a cold case. It has been unsolved for nine years.
Investigators believe Jennifer Powers was a victim of foul play or homicide. They have not yet been able to identify a suspect or even find her remains.
Crews were out digging on Granto Road Wednesday, with hopes of finally locating Powers. It has been Powers' family's hope too.
"You pray every day that she'll be found, and that's all you can do," said Shirley Locke, Powers' mother. "I just praise the Lord that they're still looking after all this time.
What investigators did at the site
Deputies said they were on-site utilizing dogs that can detect human remains, along with new technology they didn't have when Powers went missing in 2008.
"What we have is ground penetrating radar, which we didn't have nine years ago,"said Captain Michael Salomonsky on behalf of the Madison County Sheriff's Office. "It penetrates the ground to a certain distance. It tells you if there are voids, holes, or metal objects."
He said after a thorough search, they did find some things. Salomonsky did not elaborate about what items were located except to say: "We didn't get all the results we wanted today, but we got a lot more than we thought we would and I think we have some more elements that we are going to investigate that will help us down the road."
Salomonsky said this search area was the best "area of alert," where they had the best chance of finding something that they are aware of right now.
Items found Wednesday will now be processed. That's how investigators can identify leads and move forward.
"We are going to submit those items to various labs for analysis and see if they can come back with any hair, fibers, blood, anything that we call trace evidence," Salomonsky said.
This cycle will continue. Investigators will not quit, he said, until they find Powers and get justice for her family. They will use all the technology and effort they can.
"We will continue this process as we go through the investigation and use the same thing again. We will use the dogs, the bars, the ground penetrating radar, and anything I can get my hands on to help me solve this case," said Salomonsky. "But there is no replacement for dedicated investigators on the ground."
He believes there are other places in Madison County and another county that they may turn to search next.
Salomonsky explained that this case is 9 years in, and it may be even longer before they are able to close it. That's ok by him. He said they need to take their time.
"We need to get it right. We don't need to rush," he said. "If we rush now, we could make a mistake. We are at the point now where we are edging towards that goal. We need to walk rather than run."
How You Can Help
Deputies are asking anyone who knows any information, whether or not you believe it may be useful, to come forward.
"This lady was somebody's little girl. Somebody held her on their lap and somebody had dreams for her, and things sometimes don't work out the way you want them to," said Salomonsky. "We want to bring the family closure. That's what we are going to try to do.'
He said it is going to take help from the community.
Contact Investigator Andrews (256) 533-8866 or the non-emergency number to dispatch at (256) 722-7181 if you can help.