When a team of police Tuesday searched a rural wooded area for evidence that might link two unsolved killings and two suspects recently arrested in connection with the murder of 13-year-old Arlene Flowers, officials revealed they were also looking for the bodies of missing District girls who may have fallen victim to foul play.
At the time of the search police listed eight Washington girls, all between 13 and 17 years old, as missing. The girls were from all areas of the city. Each had been missing for at least 30 days and most had been away from home since January.
As they picked through six square miles of mud and briers, officers uncovered several muddied pocketbooks but no bodies. Meanwhile, investigators at the D.C. Police Youth Division located the eight missing girls that homicide detectives were concerned about. They were all runaways.
The last of the eight was found Thursday afternoon outside the District.
"After they arrested two men for the Flowers murder, homicide detectives requested a list of girls from D.C. missing for more than 30 days," said Sgt. Harold Winters, spokesman for the Youth Division missing persons unit. "Then, as a precautionary measure, they searched for more bodies in the general area where Flowers' body was found."
Winters said that as general policy the youth division would alert the homicide branch if it noticed a series of questionable missing persons cases. "If a pattern of mysterious cases of missing girls was developing, we would have known about it within a month. And we would devote our full attention to it," he said.
Flowers was reported missing on Feb. 20. The case was changed to "critical missing" by the 21st, police said. When a juvenile is listed as "critical missing," police believe that he or she may be a victim of foul play. None of the eight girls reported missing before the search were listed as critical, Winters said.
Police would not release details of any of the eight cases because all the girls are juveniles.