Sunday, August 05, 2001

Search for Major's body moves to dam


Divers couldn't find gun in pond

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        VERONA — Boone County authorities called off the search of a rural farm pond at 2 a.m. Saturday, unable to find the weapon used to kill Helen Marlene Major 20 years ago.

        “We are reasonably certain the gun is not in the pond,” said Boone County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jack Banks. “We will now concentrate our search on the dam.”

[photo] Boone County Criminal Investigations detectives look over the farm pond that was searched.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        The meticulous search of the small 7-foot-deep farm pond by Boone County Water Rescue divers was complicated because sediment was removed from the pond's bottom during routine maintenance less than a year ago.

        Lt. Banks said searchers will be back to the 300-acre farm later this week to comb the area around the dam. It was rebuilt when the sediment was removed from the pond.

        Sheriff's deputies believe Mrs. Major's headless body was dumped in a sink hole on the same farm, which straddles the Gallatin County line off Ky. 16. Deputies have also searched that area, but now are seeking help from noted Kentucky forensic anthropologist Emily Craig.

        A skull identified last month through DNA testing as Mrs. Major's was found by a hunter on the farm in 1981.

        Deputies are studying aerial photographs from as far back as 20 years to give them clues in the mystery. The searchers' arsenal of weapons includes an all-terrain vehicle, a giant magnet that can pull a gun out from under 20 years' worth of sediment and sensitive metal detectors.

        Husband William Major allegedly told his father in March that he had killed his wife.

        Mr. Major was arrested at his Fairhaven, Mass., home and last month was brought back to Kentucky, where he faces the death penalty. Mr. Major has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.
       



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- Search for Major's body moves to dam