ANCHORAGE - Alaska state troopers searching through a garbage dump for the body of an 18-year-old woman have called off the hunt temporarily while waiting for specially trained search dogs to arrive from Germany.
State police spokeswoman Cathy Wolgemuth said three dogs and two handlers will be arriving in Anchorage around midnight tonight from Dusseldorf.
Troopers imported expert help after a weeklong search at the landfill north of Anchorage yielded no sign of the body of Amy Sue Patrick of Wasilla, who was reported missing Sept. 23, one day after she apparently was abducted while housesitting for friends at a secluded residence.
Authorities said an Anchorage man, Kyung Yoon, confessed in a letter to the Patrick family that he had kidnapped the woman, broken her neck and then deposited her body at the dump.
Yoon, a chemistry student, was arrested Oct. 5 and died while in custody the following day after taking a dose of arsenic. His burial was Thursday. Yoon was 21.
Acting on information they say came from Yoon, authorities searched through mounds of trash at the landfill, despite snow and cold that produced a ground fog when garbage was disturbed.
"It was just not safe to be out there," Wolgemuth said. "The backhoe operator couldn't see the observers,"
Hampered by continued cold and a weekend forecast that calls for more light snow, troopers tracked down the German dog-handlers after learning that the team was specially trained to find human remains deposited in trash.
Handlers send one dog out at a time and wait for a sign that a scent has been detected.
A second dog is sent out to verify before digging begins. The dogs and their handlers have a good success rate in Europe, and the dogs are said to be able to detect a scent buried under as much as 15 feet of trash.
Anchorage authorities plan to scrape off a layer of hardened ice and snow in the east end of the landfill, closest to the Glenn Highway. Trash found there includes dated material that coincides with the date Patrick was reported missing.
While mourners gathered Thursday in a flower-filled church in Wasilla to remember Patrick, Yoon's family attended a private graveside service at Anchorage Memorial park where he was buried.
Letters attributed to Yoon and released by troopers indicate no motive for the slaying, except that the killer was afraid of being accused of burglarizing the home where Patrick was staying.