Authorities Decide NOT to Look in Virginia Landfill for Missing Black Teen
By Abena Agyeman-Fisher on May 11th 2011 12:48PM
On August 2nd, 18-year-old Latisha Frazier (pictured as a child with her father above), who is also a Mother of 3-year-old Diamond, was lured to a D.C. apartment and attacked by four teens and one adult.
According to Lawrence Kamal Hassan, 23, who was eventually charged with kidnapping, Frazier had allegedly stolen $200 from 17-year-old Johnnie Sweet, and she had been brought to Sweet's residence in order to "teach her a lesson."
After incessant stomping, Frazier died.
Not knowing what to do with her body, Sweet, along with Anneka Nelson, 16, and Cinthya Proctor, 18, all helped to put Frazier's body in the closet.
Eventually, they would attempt to dismember her, but when they weren't able to do it, they decided to throw her remains in the garbage.
Frazier's parents would report Frazier missing two days later on August 4th.
Now, almost nine months later, even after all involved parties have been charged as adults with first-degree felony muder, with the exception of Hassan who was charged with felony murder (or kidnapping), Frazier's parents still have been unable to locate their daughter.
Hassan, who admitted during the trial that he was the one responsible for strangling Frazier by putting her in a chokehold, insists that Frazier's body was indeed left in a Washington garbage bin, meaning that Frazier's remains would have had to be taken to a landfill in Richmond, Virginia.
And while this seems like an easy case for authorities to close, the drama and heartache for the Frazier family has only intensified:
Authorities ruled that they would NOT look for Frazier's body in the landfill (pictured below) because they deem her retrieval too dangerous and expensive.
According to the AP:
"Police and prosecutors said the search would have exposed officers to toxic levels of methane, needles and other dangerous refuse and would have cost millions of dollars and taken at least six months. They say officers would have had to dig through 500,000 cubic yards of trash just to reach the search area - Frazier's remains are believed to be 60 to 70 feet below the surface - and that even if they found them, it wouldn't greatly aid their prosecution."
D.C. police also say that even if they retrieved the body, Frazier's remains would be so severely compromised that it wouldn't help the investigation.
Still, many beyond Frazier's family are up in arms that police and officials aren't doing all that they can -- as has been done in other cases -- to lay Frazier's body to rest.
Former New York police officer and prosecutor who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Eugene O'Donnell says police spared no expense in retrieving as many bodies as possible during the September 11th attacks in New York:
"The police took great risks and spared no expense and literally people got injured while they stood on a pile in Fresh Kills Landfill" on Staten Island, N.Y., searching for remains of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks."
Frazier's father, Barry Campbell (pictured below right with Frazier's mother, Caroline), thinks his daughter is getting different treatment because he and her mother are regular blue-collar workers:
"[You have the] big world .... Then you have the Latisha Fraziers, that's the small world - helping people as far as at McDonald's or working the Metro. The blue-collar workers, the blue-collar people. They're looked upon in a different light."
Even experts in the field say D.C. officials treatment of this case is unusual. According to the AP:
"Experts say the decision not to excavate is unusual in a profession conditioned to do all it can to recover victims' bodies, but they also said it reflects the long odds of success the police felt they faced and the tricky calculus involved in any missing person case."
While having officials go 70 feet below the surface to find Frazier's remains is dangerous, it is by no means unheard of.
In 2009, seven-year-old Somer Thompson (pictured below) disappeared. Authorities immediately knew that if she had been killed, her body would most likely end up the Flokston, Georgia, landfill.
According to ABC News:
"Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said it was a "matter of routine course" in a missing person case that police "begin following garbage trucks" and search nearby landfills."
Georgia police went through 100 tons of trash and spent three days relentlessly looking for her over land and around lakes with the use of helicopters and heat-sensing technologies.
And when they still couldn't find her, authorities went the extra step of interviewing more than 70 registered sex offenders that lived in the area.
Eventually, Somer was found in that same landfill that authorities had been eyeing all along.
Georgia authorities were committed to finding Somer and spared no expense until they actually did. In the case with Frazier, one of her attackers has directed authorities to where her body is, yet there remains no action to excavate.http://www.bvblackspin.com/2011/05/11/latisha-frazier/