Police officers found human remains at around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday while conducting an exploratory dig in a landfill in search of Megan Shultz, who disappeared in 2006.
According to Police Chief Geoff Jones, the remains had items consistent with what they expected to find with Shultz, including clothing. He did not elaborate.
“We’ve been working with a professional anthropologist who confirmed that what we found was, in fact, human remains,” Jones said.
The remains were found after police began an exploratory dig at the city landfill Sept. 9 in an attempt to date materials to around the time Shultz disappeared in 2006. The dig began after her former husband told police he had killed her.
“On Aug. 4, Keith Alan Comfort turned himself in to the Lake Geneva police (in Wisconsin) and made voluntary statements implicating himself in the murder of Shultz, who was his wife at the time,” City of Columbia spokesperson Steven Sapp said.
Comfort said that he had disposed of Shultz’s remains in Columbia in 2006, Sapp said. Comfort is currently being held at the Boone County Jail on charges of second degree murder, with a $1 million cash bond.
“The Columbia Police Department, in conjunction with the City of Columbia Solid Waste Utility, began an exploratory dig on Monday in an attempt to find landfill locations in use during the period of time that Comfort indicated,” Sapp said.
Crews were able to narrow the search to 3-4 acres, Sapp said.
“I have a lot of faith in the people who were out there. I have rarely seen that kind of determination in anyone, so I think we all had faith that we would find it,” Jones said. “Although we didn’t know what we would find today, we were really looking for dated materials, it was no surprise that we found it.”
Jones said he talked to crews at the landfill the first day of the search.
“Most of us have children,” he said. “None of us, including the city manager, were comfortable with that being the final resting place for somebody’s child.”
Jones said investigators still have more work to do in the search and will continue digging Thursday, hopefully bringing the search to an end. The remains will undergo DNA testing, but the process will likely take several weeks.
“This is an example of getting that one piece of information that we needed and a community coming together to find it,” Jones said. “We just want to make sure that we are thorough and complete and we show as much dignity and respect to Megan and her family as we can during this process and help them through it the best we can.”
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