No landfill search for body of slain teen, D.C. police say

Caroline Frazier searched for her missing daughter for months before getting word that police have ruled the case a homicide.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011; 8:03 PM

D.C. police officials have told the family of slain teenager Latisha M. Frazier that they know the probable location of her body but have decided against a search, relatives said.

Frazier's remains probably are buried under tons of trash and dirt at a landfill in Richmond, the relatives said. But D.C. police told them that a search could not be authorized because it would cost more than $1 million.

"We're angry," said Frazier's father, Barry Campbell. "I just want to give my baby a proper burial. If this was your daughter, you would want the same for her." Campbell said city officials have refused to issue a death certificate for Frazier because her body has not been found.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said in an e-mail that the decision was not based solely on cost. Lanier said the main issue was the safety of the recovery officers weighed against the likelihood of finding the remains.

Crews could encounter hazards such as the escape of methane gas, exposure to disease and the collapse of tons of trash and dirt.

"The remains are likely buried at a minimum of 70 feet, and the search would take a minimum of six months," Lanier said. "With the high potential of injury and the low probability of recovery, we made the very difficult decision that this search was not feasible. This decision is disappointing for us as well."

Five of the six people charged in Frazier's slaying are scheduled to make their first joint appearance at a hearing Friday in D.C. Superior Court.

The six - three males and three females, ranging in age from 16 to 23 - were charged as adults with various counts in connection with Frazier's death, including first- and second-degree murder and kidnapping.

They gave authorities various accounts of inviting Frazier, 18, to a Southeast Washington apartment on Aug. 2, where they beat her, placed her in a closet and covered her with a sheet. After Frazier died, several of the defendants tried to dismember her and then dumped her body in a dumpster behind the apartment building in the 1700 block of Trenton Place SE.

The attack was allegedly orchestrated by a 17-year-old who told his friends that Frazier had stolen money from him.

Frazier's family reported her missing Aug. 4 and canvassed the Southeast neighborhood. The disappearance remained a mystery until January, when the first suspect was arrested.

After the arrests, Frazier's family hoped to secure her remains for a memorial service or burial.

"So they're just going to let her rot there," said Frazier's mother, Caroline. "They're not even going to try. That's what they're telling us: It's not worth it. My baby doesn't deserve that."

© 2011 The Washington Post Company