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Examiner
  • Independence police search landfill

  • Independence police, along with other law enforcement agencies, spent much of Tuesday looking for evidence connected to November’s triple homicide case.

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  • Independence police, along with other law enforcement agencies, spent much of Tuesday looking for evidence connected to November’s triple homicide case.
    Tom Gentry, public information officer for the Independence Police Department, said officers with the Independence and Kansas City police departments, along with cadets from MCC-Blue River’s Police Academy program, searched a specific sector of the Courtney Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, at 2001 Missouri 291. He would not say what exactly they were looking for, only that it is important to the ongoing investigation.
    “During the early phases of the investigation, we were able to obtain information that leads us to believe that there is some evidence that may have ended up at the landfill,” Gentry said. “You never know what pieces of evidence will become crucial at trial, which is why we treat every piece of evidence and every lead like it is the most important.”
    A home invasion Nov. 16 left three people dead and a 12-year-old boy critically injured. The victims were Maria Hernandez, 48; her son Antonio Hernandez, 20 and her boyfriend, Tomas Dominguez.
    Five people have been charged in connection with the triple homicide. They are Carlos Zambrano Jr., 27,; Bobbie Jo Phillips, 37; Raul Soto, 22; Antonio Cervantes III, 32, and Kevin M. Finley, 33. Each is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, one count of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree burglary.
    According to court documents, the defendants entered the home around 4 a.m. expecting to get money and drugs from Dominguez. The 12-year-old was shot trying to protect his mother. If convicted, all five defendants face life in prison or a possible death sentence.
    Gentry said the search would continue “as long as daylight permits.” He said depending on the results from Tuesday’s search, police officers could be back at the landfill today.
    “It is difficult. They dump the refuse, roll over it with heavy equipment, place a layer of dirt over it and absolutely crush it,” he said. “It does make searching difficult. You have to get in there with a back hoe to push the ground around. We use rakes, hoes and shovels to go through it. It is truly like the proverbial searching for a needle in a hay stack.”
     
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