LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) - Cold case investigators looking into the Feb. 5, 1981disappearance of then-14-year-old Deanie Peters did not find theevidence they were hoping for during a Tuesday dig behind an oldschoolhouse in northwest Ionia County.
"We're wrapping up this part of the operation," Kent CountySheriff Larry Stelma told reporters at around 2 p.m. "So they'llmove on to the next set of leads." The sheriff did not want todisclose when or where the next search would take place.
Peters disappeared from her brother's wrestling practice atForest Hills Central Middle School in Ada. She told her mother shewas going to use the restroom and never returned.
The site of Tuesday's dig, northeast of Lowell near Potters Roadand Marble Road, has long been tied to the investigation. TheLowell police chief visited the Keene Township site shortly afterPeters' disappearance. In the 1990s, a tipster told investigatorsthat he overheard a man named Bruce Bunch at a party talking aboutburying Dean Marie Pyle -- known as Deanie Peters -- there.
"He was haunted by the chains clanging on the may pole behindthe schoolhouse where he claims to have buried her," said thetipster, Joe Fallstrom, in an interview last year with 24 Hour News8.
The cold case team reopened the case in March 2008 with the hopethat new theories, new standards and new technology could shed somelight, Sheriff's Lt. Kevin Kelley told 24 Hour News 8.
"Through their looking at the case and reinterviewing severalwitnesses, this is one particular location where they thought thatit was necessary to dig to look for Deanie Peters' body," Kelleysaid.
Tuesday's dig began around 9 a.m. with more than a dozen peopleinvolved -- along with heavy equipment.
"Went by one time and the tents were there," neighbor BettyNelson told 24 Hour News 8. "Came by another time and the backhoewas there so thought something was up."
"They used the mechanical excavator here to skim the top soil,"Stelma told 24 Hour News 8. He said the team contacted the MichiganState University Department of Anthropology to engineer the dig.And once that top soil was skmmed, the anthropologists examinedit.
"When there's a change in the soil composition than they canpoint out where that soil's been disturbed -- or it hasn't beendisturbed" even nearly three decades later, the sheriffexplained.
Nelson has lived in the area for roughly 15 years. When shemoved in, "Our neighbor told us that there was a rumor that a girlfrom Forest Hills was kidnapped, killed and buried behind the oldschoolhouse.
She said she thought it was just a story, a rumor -- and hadn'tthought about it until she saw crews digging. Tuesday'sunsuccessful search could put that rumor to rest.
The case has involved several other suspects, including acustodian at Forest Hills Central Middle School and a death-rowinmate in Florida. Charges were never filed in either instance.
Investigators have used psychics, hypnotized a student and sentPeters' dental records to other states to help in the case. You areasked to call the Kent County Cold Case Team at (616) 632-6123 ifyou know anything about Peters' disappearance.
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