Second day of searching yields no sign of missing girl

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Nico Savidge
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

JANESVILLE—Crews returned to a vacant lot on the northeast side of Janesville on Tuesday morning, bringing with them heavy equipment to try to find what remains of a Fort Atkinson girl who disappeared in 1947.

The first two days of searching for Georgia Jean Weckler ended empty-handed, however, just as the past 66 years of them did.

About 20 Rock County deputies and Janesville police officers resumed sifting dirt at the intersection of East Rotamer and North Wright roads around 8:30 Tuesday morning, Capt. Todd Christiansen said.

A tipster told police and the sheriff's office last week that Weckler's body could be buried in a shallow grave on the property—a once-wooded lot where developers had planned to build a home soon, authorities said.

Specially trained cadaver-sniffing dogs indicated the presence of human remains there last week, Christiansen said, kicking off the intensive search that began Monday.

Last seen walking up the driveway to her family's farm near Fort Atkinson after school on May 1, 1947, Weckler's disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved crimes in Wisconsin history.

By Tuesday afternoon, however, searchers still had not found any sign of Weckler, who was 8 years old when she went missing.

The crew, slightly smaller than the 30-person group that sifted at the property Monday, got some help from heavy equipment on loan from the city of Janesville.

They needed it because, as workers dug, the hard-packed soil and clay proved too tough to get through, Christiansen said. That slowed an already painstaking search.

“Hand tools just weren't cutting it,” he said.

Crews on Tuesday still focused on just two of the 24 sections authorities divided the land into when the search started, Christiansen said.

City employees used equipment to clear a handful of trees authorities had to cut for the search, while a backhoe helped break up the tougher ground so investigators could have an easier time sifting through it, Christiansen said.

“We weren't making any headway,” he said. “Hopefully (the backhoe) will speed stuff up.”

Authorities still were not releasing much information about the man who tipped them off or why he came forward.

His is only the latest in a long history of leads authorities have investigated since Weckler's disappearance captivated Wisconsin in the 1940s.

Ed Lindloff, of Delavan, came forward in 1996, telling a reporter he saw two men hastily bury something at the base of a building in Delavan soon after Weckler went missing, according to WalworthCountyToday.com.

Although he relayed information about the men to the Walworth County sheriff when he learned about the Weckler case in 1949, authorities never investigated. And while Jefferson County sheriff's deputies interviewed Lindloff after a reporter for The Week newspaper contacted them, the site he told authorities about was never excavated.

Back in Janesville, workers were doing just that—many of them having traded the uniforms and polo shirts they wore Monday for grubby T-shirts, jeans and shorts Tuesday.

Christiansen predicted they would likely be there through the week.

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