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Jacque Waller's purse among items found in roadside search

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Police continued their search for evidence Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 in the area where Jacque Waller's car was found along the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near the 104 mile marker.
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
Investigators found Jacque Waller's purse and some of its contents during a search linked to her disappearance alongside southbound Interstate 55 Thursday and Friday, Waller's father confirmed Friday.

On Saturday, volunteers searched more areas in Cape Girardeau County but found nothing.

Stan Rawson said authorities informed him of finding his daughter's personal belongings, as well as her tattered purse, which had apparently been shredded by mowing equipment.

"It was all chopped up," Rawson said of Waller's purse in an on-the-record interview.

Jackson police, Cape Girardeau County sheriff's deputies and a member of the FBI's Evidence Response Team canvassed the area Thursday and Friday for items that could be linked to Waller's disappearance. Authorities collected and photographed evidence they had flagged Thursday afternoon during their search.

The flagged items were associated with Waller's disappearance, said Lt. David James with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department. James declined to comment on the importance of the evidence.

Roughly a dozen law enforcement officials combed the area Friday by vigorously turning over brush with rakes and surveying the area with metal detectors. Around 9:30 a.m. Friday, authorities began expanding the search area southward, with six Jackson police officers walking beyond the previously searched area with metal detectors and orange evidence flags.

The search on the southbound side of Interstate 55 concluded Friday, said Lt. Rodney Barnes of the Jackson Police Department.

Authorities will also search the northbound side of the interstate, FBI Evidence Response Team member Brian Ritter said, noting that he was unsure when that search will begin.

The search took place where authorities found Waller's SUV with a flat tire after she disappeared. The area was canvassed again because it was mowed after the warm-weather season when grass was tall, Jackson police chief James Humphrey said. The area had been searched after the disappearance, but this was the first opportunity police had to look over the area after a recent mowing, Humphreys said. Humphreys said he was unsure when the area was mowed.

The area had last been searched in late June or early July, James said.

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.

When asked if authorities had received a tip to search the area, Barnes declined to comment.

Waller disappeared June 1. 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 broke Jacque Waller's neck and buried her in an undisclosed location. 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 SUV was found.

A law enforcement-directed search for Jacque Waller was held Saturday. Around 65 people including Jacque Waller's family members, community volunteers and a team from the CUE Center for Missing Persons with six cadaver dogs searched three areas. Searchers gathered in a chilly, fog-filled Cape County Park South around 8 a.m. and were dispatched to an area between the park and Interstate 55, an area near Snake Hill in Cape Girardeau and property near Fruitland.

Jacque Waller's sister, Cheryl Brenneke, stayed at a shelter at the park for most of the day while the search was ongoing. Her husband Bob, brother Rob Rawson and sister-in-law Nancy participated in the search.

"I can't believe how many people are here," she said, as searchers departed to their assigned locations Saturday morning. "It makes me feel very blessed."

The search was headed by Bobby Sherrill, a childhood friend of Jacque Waller. Sherrill said nothing was found in any of the areas Saturday.

Staff writer Erin Ragan contributed to this report.



Pertinent address:

Fruitland, MO

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"The area is being canvassed again because it was mowed after the warm-weather season when grass was tall. The area had been searched after the disappearance, but this was the first opportunity police had to look over the area after the recent mowing"

This should have been done a dozen times since June 1. "First opportunity" is not a good excuse! What a shame!

-- Posted by Stooges on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 11:54 AM

Stooges your right on. If it was searched, they werent very thorough, because at 4/times/year, it would have been mowed in June or July.

-- Posted by carco on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 2:43 PM

I bet MODOT would've made a special trip to mow the grass during the first search.

-- Posted by Responder1 on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 3:03 PM

Somebody's intelligence is showing!

-- Posted by plainjane75 on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 4:12 PM

I have never heard of an investigation waiting months for grass and weeds to be mowed to continue searching for evidence. This should have been taken care of when she first went missing. Now, because of this search an innocent person has been killed, because our county didn't provide advance warning on the interstate to the travelers on the road. Besides that, the grass has been cut now for quite a while, what took them so long to search?

-- Posted by braveheart on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 7:13 PM

WHY was the purse just found? There is more to this story than meets the eye. Sounds like some real professionals are on top of this case!

-- Posted by Bman69 on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 11:49 PM

They could not find a 727 jet plane in Capaha park with the grass cut.

-- Posted by ssinteriors on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 7:20 AM

You really know NO details of this case as to the "whys". The areas that have been searched already, as this has, back in the summer were almost impossible to thoroughly search. They are NOW going back over those areas since the underbrush is gone, trees have lost leaves and the grass has been mowed. They KNOW that this is NOT where they need to search for JACQUE, but instead, her belongings. They are looking for items that may have been thrown there and near there when the car was abandoned. It's not like these items are going to end the search for HER. People on here have no common sense. Let LE do their job. It's apparent you are not in LE, or any other emergency profession.

-- Posted by Hot Dog on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 8:58 AM

BTW, you may be correct, but, then, again, if they found something as large as a purse, you can fairly well surmise that the area was poorly inspected the first go around. Before the purse was exposed to months of exposure and torn up by the blades of a mower, it may have held more clues than it does today.

-- Posted by InReply on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 3:38 PM

I'm not in LE, BTW, but I have enough sense to realize that this area could have been trimmed and mowed months ago. The trees losing their leaves has nothing to do with looking for clues left on the ground, which is where most clues would be. In fact, waiting until all the leaves fell made the job more difficult! If the police thought something had been thrown out or left behind, the sensible thing would have been to clear this area months ago. I've helped clear a 5-acre piece of land that hadn't been cleared in over 70 years, and it was hard work, but two adults got it done in less than the 5 months this job took.

-- Posted by pattim on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 10:15 PM

the cops need to look under the house for her body or any cubbie holes in the house for her body.

-- Posted by furball1224 on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 6:23 AM

I am sorry but dogs could have been used the day her suv was found. the search should have been all the way to cape going south and to perryville going north,this was a huge error on these investigators....Do you need me to bring my lab out and search? he would have found this, he is nott affraid of weeds and tall grass

-- Posted by reverseangle on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 2:33 PM

In a thorough investigation, nothing stands in the way of obtaining evidence. Concrete can be broken up, thousands of tons of earth can be moved and structures can be demolished. The brush should have been cut during the first search if it had to be done with a sickel!

-- Posted by thewonder on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 2:56 PM

Gosh, I wish I was a smart as some of the commenters think they are. If I was, I would be the greatest detective that ever lived.

-- Posted by mo_ky_fellow on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 8:33 PM

Maybe the purse wasn't there all that time. Who can say WHEN it landed there???

-- Posted by ArcticFox on Wed, Nov 9, 2011, at 11:52 AM

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