(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
The area had last been searched in late June or early July, said Lt. David James with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department.
A staff member with the Missouri Department of Transportation in Sikeston couldn't provide an exact date the area was mowed but said it would have been within the last two weeks. MoDOT said the area is mowed four times a year.
Authorities combed the area Thursday, marking points and items of interest with orange evidence flags. Jackson firefighters looked for clues in a drainage ditch near the interstate. As of 5 p.m., when most investigators left the scene, the bottom of a steep incline in the southernmost part of the searched area had the largest cluster of flags.
James said items associated with the investigation have been found but declined to comment on those items and their importance to the investigation.
Interstate 55 was reduced to one lane on the southbound side for the search and was to be reduced through the night, James said. Lights were to overlook the area, with highway patrol troopers standing guard until the search resumes early today. Authorities will also search the northbound side of the interstate, Humphreys said.
"Law enforcement has been good to us so far," she said. "I'm very appreciative of their continued efforts."
Volunteers and law enforcement will canvass Cape County Park South with cadaver dogs all day Saturday, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the Jacque Waller search.
Waller disappeared June 1, and her vehicle was found abandoned on the side of I-55 in the area where investigators were searching Thursday afternoon. Her estranged husband, Clay Waller, has been named as a suspect in her disappearance, and Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle has filed papers saying he anticipates a murder charge in the case.
Clay Waller is in federal custody after pleading guilty to making an Internet threat against Jacque Waller's sister, who has custody of the couple's triplets.
A judge is set to consider whether Swingle can preserve testimony from Clay Waller's father, purportedly saying that Clay Waller confessed to murdering his wife. A hearing on the matter is coming up Nov. 18.
Clay Waller has repeatedly denied any involvement in the disappearance of Jacque Waller. Police say Clay Waller was the last person to see her before her car was found abandoned on I-55.