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Report released in Tammy Salle investigation slams authorities

By Donovan Hill, KTVM Reporter, dhill@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 26 2013 05:49:58 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 27 2013 11:02:17 AM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

The family of Tammy Salle asked for outside help in searching the landfill for their daughter’s possible remains.

The nonprofit canine search group K-9 Forensics Special Operations Inc. was contacted by Salle's family and volunteered to conduct the search for free.

Salle's family paid for a plane ticket for Wendy Kessinger with K-9 Forensics Special Operations Inc. and her two self-described cadaver dogs.

After a full day of searching with the dogs, no hard evidence was determined to be found.

The nonprofit group's completed report of the search has come under fire from investigators.

The six-page report released by Kessinger slammed the authorities saying, ”This is the most disrespectful search" that she had ever seen.

"When we reviewed the report it was obvious to us that many of the things she had written in the report were misleading, very inaccurate and not factual," said John Strandell, Investigations Bureau Chief with the Montana Department of Justice.

Kessinger's report also mentions blood-stained evidence.

"I bent down a little closer and I could see plastic wrap which was just cleaned, there was an orange and brown afghan crochet blanket, and there was two regular sized pillows with blue stripes that were sandwiched together and when I bent down I could see flesh," said Kessinger.

But state investigators have a completely different story.

"She mentioned in the report that a blanket was located and we don't agree with that, there was not a blanket that we observed there so we're not sure what she saw," added Strandell.

Kessinger says her dogs are certified in Florida.

We checked New Mexico where Kessinger currently resides and discovered her dogs are not on a list of "state recognized" search and rescue teams.

Once we started asking questions to other search and rescue companies across the nation we found many dog handlers concerned by the search. At the top of their list of concerns is the difficulty of searching in a landfill.

"It just makes it extremely difficult for a dog to work through anything like that, there is that slight possibility that one in a million chance that you’re so close to the body that you might find it but I personally wouldn't do it.” Said Marty Neiman, the owner of Search One K-9 Detection.

Other professionals like the Institute of K9 forensics from California, a group that searched for astronaut remains from the space shuttle Columbia, told us some landfill searches can be successful.

Despite the findings from Kessinger's report the Justice Department tells us that it has concluded the search at the landfill and will continue to search elsewhere.