Thursday afternoon, one of the men accused in the killing of a missing Williamsburg woman took police to a site where he claims her remains were buried. Three cadaver dogs were brought in to investigate and indicated the presence of remains at the site.
Williamsburg Police and Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley dug into the night and found bones.
“We thought we had her. We thought they were human bones,” Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said about Laura Anderson’s remains.
Officials sent the bones to the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort, but received disappointing news Friday morning when they were notified the bones weren’t human.
“I don’t know what to say at this point. I don’t know what his deal is,” Bird said about suspect Joseph Samuel James Bauer, who so far is the only person charged in connection with the Anderson’s death. She was last seen on Feb. 11 when she got out of a vehicle near the Pilot Travel Center off Exit 11 after a fight were her family and boyfriend.
Police think Bauer was one of three people involved in Anderson’s shooting death that night.
On Thursday afternoon, Bauer took police to a location off Dal Road where he claims the body was buried in a shallow grave, which was located in a dry creek bed/four-wheeler path.
Williamsburg police resumed their search Friday morning in the area.
“We are going to cover that area good and rule it out one way or another,” Bird said. “This area is closer to where we know it (the killing) happened at.”
Bird said that police don’t know if Bauer is intentionally misleading police, or if the remains were moved by nature or others involved in the killing.
“This makes the second area he has taken us to that has turned up no results. It’s hard to predict how these guys think,” Bird said.
Through the course of their investigation, Bird said police know that the body was moved at least once over the seven-month period since Anderson went missing, and they haven’t ruled out the possibility that it might have been moved a second time.
Police say it is also possible that floodwaters may have moved the remains.
“This area that we are in is a creek bed. When the river comes up, this area floods very quickly. That is a very real possibility,” Bird added.
The first Bauer show police was off the Savoy Bridge into the Clear Fork River.
Police and emergency services worker did an extensive search of that area and turned up a bone in the river.
Bird said that while authorities haven’t received official word from the state medical examiner’s office, they no longer believe that bone is human.
Tuesday afternoon, Bird charged Bauer, 33, with complicity to commit murder, complicity to commit tampering with physical evidence, complicity to commit first-degree robbery and complicity to being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun.
Bauer was already incarcerated in the Whitley County Detention Center on unrelated charges.
Whitley District Judge Cathy Prewitt entered a not guilty plea for Bauer during his arraignment early Thursday afternoon.
She set a $1 million cash bond for Bauer, appointed the public advocate’s office to represent him, and set a Sept. 10 preliminary hearing in his case.
Around Aug. 27, Bauer contacted police claiming to have information about Anderson’s disappearance.
Bauer was never a suspect in the case until he contacted police, Bird said.
“All he wanted to do was provide information. He never asked to get out of jail or a reduction in charges or anything. He began giving us information on the case,” Bird said.
“Without going into detail, the information that he provided was consistent with early information that we had. It started out as a missing person case, but it very quickly turned in the direction of a homicide case.”
Bird said that Bauer was able to provide police with much of the information they already had, but in greater detail. Police have been able to corroborate about 90 percent of the information that Bauer gave them.