The Federal Bureau of Investigation will begin searching a remote Georgia landfill for evidence related to the May 12 disappearance of Nassau County mother Joleen Cummings.
Cummings, a mother of three and a popular hairstylist in Fernandina Beach, is not thought to be alive.
The agency will begin a 7 a.m. search on Saturday of the Chesser Island facility in Folkston, Ga.
The search will happen every day for seven days. Officials said they will have to comb through a huge section of the landfill in search for evidence. They did not say exactly what they were looking for.
Authorities said that it was possible that the suspect in Cummings' disappearance, Kimberly Kessler, threw something away that ended up in that landfill.
In June, an Action News Jax source indicated that the FBI was investigating Kessler as a possible serial killer, but the FBI would not confirm when asked about that on Friday.
The search area is about the size of a football field and encompasses around 2,700 tons of waste. The area is 12 feet deep in parts. Twenty-five searchers will take part in the effort.
Jacksonville FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Spencer said the summer conditions will make it a difficult search.
"Search conditions, make no mistake, are going to be very rough," Spencer said. "There’s going to be heat, there’s going to be rain, there’s going to be other issues we’re going to be dealing with. Team members are trained and equipped for it."
The Chesser Island landfill is the same one where the body of murdered 7-year-old girl Somer Thompson was discovered in 2009.
The FBI said it would fund the costly effort to sift through the facility. The agency dropped off a truck at the landfill on Friday but said the work would not begin until Saturday.
Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson was asked if she would need a body to pursue murder charges in the case.
"We have successfully tried first-degree murder cases without bodies before," Nelson said. "Under the law in Florida, we can do that."
Kessler is still in the Duval County Jail after she was moved following a hunger strike. Kessler has resuming eating but was reportedly worried that she was being poisoned in Nassau County.
"She thought we were trying to poison her, so her attorney requested that she be transferred somewhere else," Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said.
Cummings coworker, Kimberly Kessler, has been in jail since May after she was accused of stealing Cummings' car.
It is now known that Kessler, a Pennsylvania native, used the alias "Jennifer Sybert" while working in Florida.
Sheriff Leeper said the possible items Kessler could have left in a dumpster is vital to the outcome of this case.
"We do not yet know exactly what items were placed in the dumpster, but we believe based on what we do know that it is worth our time and effort to try to find out," Leeper said. "We have now determined that a search of a landfill is necessary to ensure that we have done all we can do to find clues and answers for Joleen’s family based on what we know at this point."
Cummings’ friend and former co-worker, Crystal Haney, said she thinks about her every day.
“I have her picture at work just as a memento because we just all cared for her so much,” Haney said.
Haney said the community needs answers.
“I am very hopeful that they find something so that we can put this person away, where we can get justice and closure,” Haney said.
Cox Media Group