Divers return to Tulloch

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By AMY LINDBLOM

For the second day in a row, divers searched Tulloch Reservoir for 27-year-old Laci Peterson, the pregnant Modesto woman missing from her home since Christmas Eve.

And, for the second day, they found nothing.

Eleven divers from Stanislaus County Underwater Search and Recovery team and Calaveras County Sheriff's Department took turns Monday diving into 40-degree water, scouring the bottom of the lake underneath the bridge on O'Byrnes Ferry Road.

Sunday, divers started on the Calaveras County side of the lake and spent eight hours searching. Monday, the divers spent another six hours looking, finishing their search on the lake's opposite or Tuolumne County side.

Saturday, investigators used cadaver dogs ones trained to sniff out decomposing bodies in various locations throughout Mariposa, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Alameda counties.

Modesto Police Sgt. Tim Helton declined to comment on why divers were sent into Lake Tulloch, except to say officials hoped to eliminate the lake as a body-dumping site.

"It is also relatively shallow here only 60 feet under the bridge and is more accessible to divers than New Melones or Don Pedro Reservoirs," Helton said.

Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department Lt. Keith Lunney and Capt. Mike Walker of the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department oversaw search activities at the reservoir Sunday and Monday. Lunney said the two departments have only been asked to assist Modesto Police Department in its search.

Lunney said it is possible a side-scan sonar device will be used if Modesto Police want to search other lakes like New Melones or Don Pedro reservoirs, which are more than 300 feet deep under bridges.

Helton said he had officers all over Tuolumne, Calaveras and Mariposa counties searching many different locations. So far the Modesto Police Department has received more than 1,100 tips, and has spent more than $65,000 in overtime on police officers working the case.

Helton would not say where searching today would begin.

11703781
The Union Democrat
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