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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No evidence found in Smelcer search

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MTSU forensics students Tyler LeJeune, foreground, and Austin Kretzer, left, sift through rocks and debris from Duck River looking for bone fragments along with TBI forensics experts (wearing caps in background).
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Rock by rock, inch by inch, for hours on end a team of experts searched Duck River on Wednesday for additional traces of Bobby Smelcer, whose skull was found nearby in April and identified Monday.

All to no avail.

"We haven't found anything," Detective Sgt. Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department said at mid-afternoon.


But it wasn't for lack of effort.

Searchers converged in early morning on the area off Stewart Road known as Wolf Meadows where the skull was found April 16.

Divers from Bedford, Williamson and Coffee counties inspected the river bottom, occasionally filling large metal buckets with rocks and debris.

Those buckets were carried by a boat occupied by two divers from Williamson County to a makeshift workstation filled with forensics personnel.

Tedious work

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensics experts and several students from Middle Tennessee State University's forensics program worked side-by-side inspecting the debris.

"We work crime scenes with skeletal remains mostly for police departments," said Dr. Hugh Berryman, director of the Forensic Institute for Research and Education at MTSU.

The debris -- mostly small, river-bottom type rocks -- was poured into large containers and sifted by hand. The containers were then turned over and the rocks left on the shore.

Other searchers closely inspected the river's shoreline.

Close planning

A Red Cross station was set up with cold drinks and food for the searchers, who were working in near 90-degree weather.

Comprehensive plans for Wednesday's search had been drawn up earlier in the event the skull found was Smelcer's, Crews said, and plans for further searches have not been determined.

Other agencies involved Wednesday included the Bedford County Sheriff's Department, Bedford County Fire Department, Bedford County Emergency Medical Service, Bedford County Emergency Management Agency, Williamson County Sheriff's Department, Coffee County Rescue Squad and the University of Tennessee forensic department.

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