It's been 11 months of waiting for answers in the case of a missing Essex couple. Now investigators hit another snag in the search for Bill and Lorraine Currier. Federal authorities say a very technical dig for evidence in the Currier case at a landfill in Coventry could take up to three weeks and bad weather may further delay that schedule. Authorities say the site was shut down by 10 a.m. Tuesday due to high wind and heavy rain.
The dig was the first public sign that federal authorities are taking on a more active role in the investigation. Experts say that may be a sign that the scope of this case is growing or that Vermont authorities need help.
"They're not going up there to Coventry on speculation either. They have very, very solid information," Jerry O'Neill said.
O'Neill is the former U.S. Attorney for Vermont. He's not in any way connected to the Currier investigation, but agreed to provide insight into the case. He says the sudden, large-scale federal presence is not a sure fire sign the feds are taking over the case. Instead, O'Neill says it may be an indication that the investigation has reached a critical crossroads where specialized expertise is needed that authorities in Vermont cannot provide. The Coventry landfill is vast and the evidence police are looking for may have been decomposing there for months.
"The FBI throughout the country acts as a resource for local and state law enforcement. The state of Vermont doesn't have the resources to go through and do the kind of work that will have to be done here," O'Neill said.
O'Neill says the resources being dedicated to the case indicates to him police have strong reason to believe they will find what they're looking for in the landfill.
"It's possible they have someone in custody for a different crime who they hope and expect to be able to charge with this," O'Neill said. "My read of it is they have a very good idea of who did it either through witnesses who have identified that person and identified the crime or someone who has confessed to it, but they really want to nail it down by finding the bodies to put it directly."
For this reason he says he's not surprised investigators are being so tight-lipped. He says a lot may be at stake and the smallest slip could compromise the ongoing investigation.
"What they're being tight-lipped about to me means that they don't want any information getting out because one of the major problems you have is people providing inaccurate information." O'Neill explained. "But if they don't know the details that the police know, they can't create false leads as easily."
Authorities tell us that Essex police are still leading the investigation even though federal agents have ramped up their involvement. O'Neill says searching the landfill is a significant step in the investigation, and although he says it is possible to get a conviction without a body, it makes it much more difficult for the prosecution.
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