Families of Colonial Parkway victims vow more searches for missing couple after dogs fail to find remains

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 07, 2010
and last updated 2012-03-01 11:47:49-05

The families of the Colonial Parkway victims are vowing more searches for a missing couple.

On Saturday, six volunteer dog handlers used their animals to sniff for human remains. They hoped to find the bodies of Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey who disappeared 22 years ago.

NewsChopper 3 was over the search teams as they returned to learn more about what they thought they found.

Shar, a cadaver dog, is trained to sniff out bodies and bones, including those under several feet of earth. And even those buried as long as a century ago.

Her handler explained that searches around cemeteries can pose problems for cadaver dogs like Shar.

"They were so undecisive. They wold move, and indicate, and move, and indicate."

And along the Colonial Parkway, by the battlefields of Yorktown and the centuries-old cemeteries of Bellfield Plantation, that's what some of the dogs did.

But Saturday afternoon, during a search organized not by police, but by families of the Colonial Parkway victims, a trio of dogs all lit on the same spot Saturday, near a cemetery. A day later that sparked a dig by the FBI's trained evidence recovery teams.

There was initial hope that this could be the big break that solved the mystery of what happened to Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey. The couple disappeared 22 years ago when police feared a serial killer was prowling the parkway.

But after hours of excavation, the FBI said they found nothing to show anyone had ever buried anything.

"That soil clearly has not been disturbed."

A fourth dog brought in by the FBI did not show any interest in the area, contradicting the earlier animals. The FBI said it's likely the previous dogs were noticing the cemetery, not a crime scene.

The news disappointed the families, who said they had to try, even if the odds were long.

"If there is any type of chance, we want to be able to take that."

Today, Jennifer Phelps told NewsChannel 3 the families were already preparing for the next search, probably in the fall, when the weather will be cooler for the dogs.