Texas landfill search finds clues in disappearance

LUBBOCK, Texas – Dogs searching a landfill have turned up evidence in the case of a 13-year-old West Texas girl reported missing nearly three weeks ago, a spokesman for the investigation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Colorado City Manager Pete Kampfer, who has served as a police spokesman in the case, declined to elaborate about what had been found during a recent search of the landfill in Abilene, about 70 miles east of Colorado City, where Hailey Darlene Dunn was reported missing Dec. 28.

“It’s a sensitive part of the investigation,” Kampfer said. “The cadaver dogs did hit on items at the landfill.”

He said landfills in Colorado City and nearby Snyder have also been searched, but that investigators have not given up on bringing Hailey home unharmed.

“We have not given up on the idea she is a runaway or something along those lines of a missing person,” Kampfer said. “We don’t want to do that. If there’s a small chance that she’s still out there alive, we want to keep up our effort to find her.”

The teen was reported missing by her mother, Billie Dunn. The woman’s former live-in boyfriend, Shawn Adkins, said he last saw Hailey a day earlier when she told him she was going to her father’s home nearby and then on to spend the night at a friend’s home. She did neither.

Kampfer last week identified Adkins as one of several people of interest in the case and said Tuesday that the investigation has widened to include “close and former associates of Adkins.” No one has been arrested.

No one answered the phone Tuesday at the Big Spring residence where Adkins was staying last week. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Adkins’ grandmother, Renee Norwood, said she hadn’t heard about the landfill search results or that Adkins’ associates were being investigated.

“I quit listening to the media and the police,” said Norwood, who claims investigators are wrongly looking at her grandson. “Why would I?”

Police affidavits in the case say Billie Dunn and Adkins have given contradictory statements to investigators. Both strongly deny involvement in Hailey’s disappearance and claim they were misquoted by police.

Billie Dunn said she wants police to look everywhere for her daughter and is spending much of her days doing interviews.

“I want to be sure the public is looking for an alive Hailey,” the 33-year-old mother of two said Tuesday. “Somebody could be getting away with my daughter.”

There have been reports, Billie Dunn said, that her daughter didn’t like Adkins. She denied that. Hailey at first saw Adkins as someone who would keep her mother and father from reconciling, Billie Dunn said.

“You know I’m happier now,” Billie Dunn said she told her daughter. “And over time, she realized that.”

In an ironic twist, commissioners in Mitchell County voted last week to join a regional public defender’s office in Lubbock, which handles only capital cases.

The scores of West Texas counties served by the Lubbock office rarely deal with death penalty cases. But when they do, trial costs can cripple their budgets; conservative estimates place the cost of trying one death penalty case at $250,000.

Mitchell County Judge Ray Mayo said Tuesday that he and the four other county commissioners discussed joining last summer and Hailey’s disappearance had nothing to do with their decision.

If a capital case emerges from Hailey’s disappearance, though, the public defender’s office would not handle it. The agreement between Mitchell County and the Lubbock office does not include pending cases.