Retired sergeant explains what it takes to complete a landfill search

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, COLO. - As investigators search for Kelsey Berreth's remains in fountain, the Problem Solvers now have information about how officers attempt a landfill search.

Investigators in the Berreth search say it could take 16 to 80 days. Miles away in Arapahoe County, a retired Commerce City Sergeant knows all too well the challenges of a landfill search. The operation he led took 58 days.

“It brings back a lot of memories," Joe Dougherty, retired Commerce City Sergeant said. “You know you’re looking for a life that needs to be found, a person, and just staying motivated with the climate you’re dealing with.”

Dougherty worked on a case in 2012. His team spent 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, trying to find a 7 month old baby in an Arapahoe County landfill.

“It’s tedious," Dougherty said. “There’s no type of equipment that can point out something, the only way you can locate anything you’re looking for is to actually sift through it one bag at a time.”

Dougherty's team used what they call a potato rake to comb through every single trash bag. Trenches often 12 to 20 feet deep is what investigators had to look through.

“I was told by several people that you were looking for a needle in a haystack," Doughtery said.

In the end the little boy was found.

Doughtery said, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire camp”

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