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Police continue search for girl missing 50 years ago

June 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators are out for a second consecutive day excavating a site along Highway 101 in the search for the remains of a 7-year-old girl.

Cadaver dogs led Santa Barbara police to the Winchester Canyon overpass in Goleta. Cold case Investigators are searching for the remains of Ramona Price who vanished on Sept. 2, 1961.

Layers of the Earth are being moved carefully with the hope of finding a 50-year-old mystery buried deep in the ground.

"This would be huge," said Lt. Paul McCaffrey from Santa Barbara Police Department. "Even though it happened so long ago, quite a few people remember it."

Price disappeared as she was walking home. The suspect for decades has been Mack Ray Edwards, a serial killer who confessed to murdering as many as 20 children.

Edwards was a heavy equipment operator who worked on freeway construction in the area. A sign on the bridge shows the date the year the bridge was built, which was right around the time Price disappeared.

"This is new for our department to be looking at a case that is this old, and to be actively searching for a body," said McCaffrey. "In speaking to dog handlers, human remains have been found that are much older than in this case."

Edwards hung himself in prison in 1971. Police say while in prison, he told other prisoners he buried victims under roads.

Special teams of cadaver dogs alerted police last week to possible human remains somewhere under or around the Winchester overpass. Now that CalTrans is tearing up the overpass to build a new one, police got the chance to conduct a thorough search.

"We dig down a few inches searching the dirt," said McCaffrey. "We then bring these specially trained cadaver dogs to search, to sniff around, to see if they can guide the search location."

Price's parents died years ago. Her older sister now has to relive the tragedy as she waits for potential buried clues.

"She clearly remembers the impact on her family," said McCaffrey. "Not just immediately, but how this devastated her family for many years to come, and they are still coming to grips with the possibility that her remains might be found."

Crews have excavated about 10 feet, but have another 10 to 15 feet to go. So far investigators have not found anything.

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