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Police comb Lithia landfill for clues about missing man

LITHIA — Tampa homicide detectives spent a fourth day digging at a southeast Hillsborough County landfill Tuesday, looking for evidence in the case of a missing man.

They're looking for furniture and carpet that could contain the body of Ryan Jerard Darkins Davis, a 20-year-old Hillsborough Community College student.

Davis was last seen April 5 with Carl G. Walters, 21, whose body was dumped off Thonotosassa Road, Tampa police said.

It's possible that Davis' body is in the landfill, along with items from the Tampa home where Walters was killed, Tampa police Detective Henry Duran said.

Police charged Walters' brother, Derrick Eugene Cullins, 28, with second-degree murder after they found cuts on his fingers, a bite mark on his chest and blood on his clothing and shoes while serving a search warrant April 10 at 1810 E Humphrey Street. Walters and Cullins had been living at the home, police said.

Authorities say Cullins stabbed Walters 18 times during an attack at their home but have yet to reveal theories about a motive.

Detectives turned up evidence that a violent struggle had occurred and found a receipt indicating that Cullins took "a load of property" to the McKay Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility on 34th Street on April 7, Duran said.

The load was then transferred to the county landfill on County Road 672 in Lithia.

Cullins, who remains in jail without bail, hasn't been charged with Davis' disappearance. Detectives found Davis' blood at the crime scene and think his body might be wrapped up in the carpet, Duran said.

The evidence the detectives seek ended up in the landfill April 7 or 8. County records helped them narrow down its location at the 3,000-acre site, Duran said.

Investigators had to wait until obtaining sufficient records and a search warrant for the facility before digging up the landfill, police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.

On Tuesday, detectives searched a heavily compressed 15- by 25-foot area with a depth of 15 feet. They found some items that were set aside for testing but no hard evidence.

"They compress about 1,400 pounds of garbage per cubic yard," Duran said. "That's a lot of material to go through."

Davis' mother, Robin Harris, said her son planned to spend the night at the Walters' home on April 5.

"I'm trying so hard not to give up hope that he's out there alive," Harris said in late April, a few weeks after Davis was last seen.

Authorities will continue searching the landfill until they've gone through all areas where evidence might be found.

Kevin Smetana can be reached at ksmetana@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2439.

Police comb Lithia landfill for clues about missing man 05/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 10:47pm]

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