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Police comb landfill for remains of missing Anaconda woman

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 07:33:13 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 30 2013 07:38:58 PM MST
ROCKER, Mont. -

A 14-person search crew faced tough conditions as they raked through trash at the Butte landfill north of Rocker on Wednesday.

"It's extremely cold with the wind" said Anaconda Police Chief Tim Barkell.

Equipment scooped up garbage bit by bit, and spread it across a large area of land.
Searchers from Anaconda and Butte-Silver Bow Police raked through for any clues in Tammy Salle's disappearance. But at this point, it's not just clues they're looking for.

"Mainly remains, body parts" Chief Barkell said. He fears her remains could be hiding in the garbage.

Tammy Salle went missing around Christmas. Her boyfriend was found days later, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. With him, a suicide note with no mention of what happened to Salle.

"We'll follow up on all leads, and this was a lead" Barkell said. The lead to search the landfill developed after a garbage worker came forward last week, saying he picked up bags in late December that seemed suspicious.

A different bag containing a towel and rug stained with blood, and other possible evidence also turned up in late December.

"It came back positive for her DNA on the towel" Barkell said, about the blood sample results, released just this week. "They're still checking the other items."

He said that bag didn't make it to the landfill- but he fears others with evidence or Salle's remains, did.

"The Butte landfill has it marked off where Anaconda dumps their trash" Chief Barkell said.

There's a specific area they're searching in, and so far have sifted through over 60 tons of trash. But that's only 20 percent of what they have left to go through.

"We're going to go through everything" Barkell said. 

He said they called the search off for the day on Wednesday just before 5 pm. They didn't find any clues, but will be back to search again on Thursday.

Investigators said it could take one or two weeks to comb through all the garbage.

NBC Montana talked to Dona Simmons, a family friend of Tammy Salle's on Wednesday. She said the family's grateful the police are still continuing the search.

She said they know some questions may never be answered- but they believe Salle is no longer alive and her soul is at rest.

They hope police find her remains so the family can have closure, and bring Tammy Salle home.