Search for backyard bodies comes up empty

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Detroit Police Department didn't find any remains in its search for the bodies of two missing persons Wednesday after receiving a tip that they were buried outside a vacant home on the city's east side.

The effort started about 10 a.m. on the 4300 block of Dickerson, which is north of Mack and east of Conner. Michael Woody, director of media relations for the Detroit Police Department, said that police do not believe the missing persons are children, and that they relate to separate cases.

FBI officials and police dig up a yard at Waveney in Detroit June 21, 2017.

FBI evidence techs were seen clearing a backyard so as to both preserve evidence and allow for a thorough search. Cadaver sniffing dogs from Michigan State Police were deployed, and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Prosecutor's Office were both on the scene. Detroit's Department of Public Works supplied landscaping gear.

Who the missing persons might be, how long they might have been there and whether they were homicide victims are unknowns.

Linda Smith, 59, was doing yardwork Wednesday, a block over on Lenox, when she noticed neighbors making their way to the scene. She joined them.

"I'm concerned for the neighborhood, and I hope it wasn't nobody I know," Smith said. "Word is traveling fast."

The commotion put a bottleneck on East Canfield at Dickerson, as drivers slowed and stopped to ask neighbors and news crews for updates.

Law enforcement officials gather outside a Detroit house. Crews look for the remains of two missing persons on June 21, 2017

The vacant homes in the area are a concern, Smith said.

"That's grounds for people to get snatched, raped. There's a lot of young kids around here," including her four grandchildren, Smith said.

Overgrown vacant fields are another problem, Smith said, one that forces residents to take the initiative and do that themselves -- or not.

"They won't even get rid of the (vacants). They keep saying Detroit is having a comeback -- I want to know when it's gonna come back."

The two-story vacant home is Detroit Land Bank property, spokesman Craig Fahle confirmed. It was in the city of Detroit's inventory from 2013 until 2014, when it was transferred to the land bank.One flat last had power in 2005, the other in 2006. DTE visited the site in 2010 and confirmed it was vacant.