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Australian police sift through 3,000 tons of trash for missing woman’s remains

<i>Queensland Police</i><br/>The search for missing woman Lesley Trotter's body has entered its seventh day at the Swanbank refuse site.
Queensland Police
The search for missing woman Lesley Trotter's body has entered its seventh day at the Swanbank refuse site.

By Chris Lau, CNN

Australian police are scouring a dump site in Queensland for the remains of a woman whose body is believed to have been inside a trash can that was emptied into a garbage truck during a regular rubbish collection.

Lesley Trotter, 78, was reported missing from her Brisbane home by her family in late March, and attempts to find her initially focused on nearby bushland walking tracks where she enjoyed hiking.

But the search took a morbid turn earlier this month when Queensland homicide detectives revealed they had evidence that she had died, and that her body may have been inside a bin that was emptied into a garbage truck.

The truck was one of 23 that took their waste collections to a transfer station, where it was compressed before being distributed to two landfill sites, Queensland Police said in a statement.

On April 18, officers partially cordoned off one of those sites and have been sifting through rubbish for Trotter’s body, or any clues to her whereabouts.

At the time, Detective Acting Superintendent Andrew Massingham described the search area as “quite enormous.” “There is some 3,000 tons of general waste that we need to sort through,” he said.

“The waste will be exhumed from the ground. It will then be tipped into lanes approximately 30 meters deep, at which time our police and ADF (Australian Defense Force) personnel will sift through by hand and using rakes,” he said.

On Thursday, police said less than 13% of the search area had been covered, and the entire process could take several weeks. Though they said paperwork belonging to a nearby resident had been found, suggesting they’re looking in the right place.

Previously Massingham said he could not “rule out foul play,” according to CNN affiliate 7 News.

Police confirmed they were looking into a possible link between Trotter’s disappearance and her recycling habits — she was known to go through trash cans outside her home and neighboring properties for recycling waste that had been put in the wrong bins.

She’d then put it in the correct bin to be recycled, police said.

“Whether that’s created some angst amongst the tenants, we’re working through that at the moment,” Massingham said.

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