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FBI Search for Remains in Linden Enters New Phase

After completing nearly two weeks of detailed site preparations while mitigating challenges, FBI personnel and technical experts anticipate beginning excavating the interior of a well in Linden, Calif. on Thursday, January 24, 2013. The excavation operation – the first known well excavation by FBI teams – will take days, if not weeks.

Despite careful initial exploration of the site with a bore and camera, experts and engineers from both the FBI Technical Hazard Response Unit (THRU) and Drill Tech Drilling and Shoring, Inc., the historic bottom of the well was not located with certainty. The effort attempted to further investigate the depths of the site in absence of conclusive evidence of where the bottom of the well was located more than two decades ago without damaging well contents. The bore and camera operation also intended locate potential hazards that the team would encounter during this challenging operation.

Over the course of the past two weeks, a corrugated pipe that is ten feet in diameter was installed and reinforced in place with concrete to protect the excavation site. The well site that is five feet in diameter is located to the side of the corrugated pipe.

Throughout the excavation operation, a large drill will excavate soil from the operational site outside of the well to facilitate safe access to the well site by Evidence Response Team (ERT) members. The ERT will then excavate the well site by hand. Excavated will dirt will then be conveyed to an area at grade for careful sifting, ensuring that all material is processed to thoroughly. Due to the hazardous nature of excavating well below grade, safety personnel will constantly monitor the teams at work.

If any remains are encountered during sifting or excavation, the excavation process will stop to assess how to best recover the remains and ensure that as much material as possible is recovered.

The collaborative team of FBI personnel and technical experts began operations at the site of the old, filled-in well in Linden on January 7, 2013 after several months of investigative work and coordination in the effort of potentially returning victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog to their loved ones.

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