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Macomb Township — After several hours of tedious, methodical digging for possibly six murder victims believed to be buried in a rural area, law enforcement officers appeared to be shutting down for the day late Tuesday afternoon.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said recovery efforts were expected to resume Wednesday morning for victims investigators believe are buried near 23 Mile and North Avenue roads, including a 12-year-old Warren girl who went missing 39 years ago.

Warren police, Macomb County Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan State Police and FBI agents are involved in the search. Many of the workers were seen packing up equipment and heading back to their vehicles about 4:30 p.m., apparently done for the day. Dwyer said the effort may take several days.

The actual dig involves the use of two backhoes carefully turning over and removing soil in plotted strips laid out in grids by federal recovery specialists. The search site, expected to eventually encompass several acres, is taking place out of eyesight in a swampy area between the Clinton River and a leveled, former wheat field.

It is the same general area where Eastpointe police were directed 10 years ago by Arthur Nelson Ream, a convicted child rapist who told authorities he buried 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki, whom he lured to a meeting with him at a Dairy Queen and then raped and killed in 1986.

“We have probable cause to believe there may be four to six victims buried somewhere there,” said Dwyer, who confirmed Tuesday the investigation was sparked by the reopening a cold case disappearance of 12-year-old Kimberly King of Warren, who disappeared in 1979.

Dwyer said the investigation has included a recent prison interview with Ream, 68, who is serving a life prison sentence for Zarzycki’s killing.

Dwyer also confirmed Ream was administered and flunked a polygraph examination during a visit. Dwyer did not disclose the focus of questions posed to Ream.

Two other unsolved cases reportedly involve teenage girls who disappeared in 1981 from Canton in Wayne County and a 17-year-old last seen in August 1982 at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Dwyer confirmed. Among various offricers seen coming and going from the search site Tuesday was one investigator driving a car with “Canton” on its side.

Some residents ventured down Cranberry Creek Drive, which dead-ends into the field, to get a glimpse of the search taking place hundreds of yards away on the other side of yellow police tape labeled: “Crime Scene – Do Not Enter.”

The most activity they saw midafternoon was an endless stream of journalists and the delivery of a “Pot-of-Gold” portable toilet for use by searchers.

Norma Rice, who lives nearby, said the activity at the site was reminiscent of the search that turned up Cindy Zarycki’s body.

“I remember when they found that other girl  about 10 years ago,” said Rice, one of the residents of the Park at Riverside community, a winding complex of manicured lawns, flowering trees and brown brick single-family residences and duplexes selling for between $250,000 to $300,000-plus just east of the Clinton River.

“It’s kind of scary, almost eerie, that it is happening again,” Rice said. “A lot of us have grandchildren and to think of something like that happening to one of them is too hard to imagine. It’s normally very quiet around here. The most exciting thing is seeing deer running around.”

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

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