Trash collectors did not see Luhk sisters at bus stop

Posted on Jun 09 2011

Garbage collectors did not see sisters Faloma and Maleina Luhk at a bus stop in As Teo on May 25, the day when they went missing, but disclosed that they twice spotted a pickup truck in the area just days before the girls’ disappearance.

As this developed, more CNMI firefighters and police officers joined the FBI in the search for clues at the Marpi landfill yesterday, but found nothing.

In an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday, a driver/collector of a trash collection company said that he and his helper were assigned to pick up trash in the As Teo area on May 25.

The collector, who asked not to be identified, said they arrived in As Teo around 5:45am and picked up garbage from two customers. He said one of the trash bins was located behind the bus stop pavilion.

At the time, he said, they did not see the 10-year-old Faloma and the 9-year-old Maleina or any other children at the bus stop.

It usually just takes them about 10 minutes to pick up the trash from their two customers every Wednesday. He said they did not notice anything unusual in the garbage bins.

The collector, however, disclosed that he and his helper first noticed a gray Nissan pickup truck parked near the gate of Santa Lourdes Shrine two Wednesdays before May 25.

They could not see the driver as the truck’s lights were on high beam and it was still dark at the time. The shrine is a few meters from the bus stop pavilion.

He said that when they returned to the area the following Wednesday, they saw the same pickup truck traveling in the direction of the bus stop.

“We thought that the driver is a resident in the area so we just ignored the truck,” the garbage collector said.

He said they did not see the truck on May 25 itself.

He said the FBI has already talked to him and his helper about the incident twice.

“We also want these girls to be found. In fact when we collect trash, we also look around for them,” he said.

After As Teo, they would usually proceed to Kagman, Papago, San Vicente, Dandan, then to their final destination, the Marpi landfill.

An employee of another trash collection company said that they had one customer in As Teo on May 25. The employee said their collector would pick up the trash in As Teo shortly before 11am. The collector also did not see the girls and did not notice anything unusual in the trash that day.

Another trash collection company has six customers in the area, but their pickup day is Saturday, Saipan Tribune learned.

[B]Landfill search[/B]

On Wednesday, FBI agents, fire fighters and police investigators began scouring a garbage heap at the Marpi landfill to look for clues in the disappearance of the Luhk sisters.

The FBI team resumed their search yesterday at the landfill with a much larger group—40 personnel—with more firefighters and police investigators joining in.

FBI special agent Tom Simon told Saipan Tribune last night that they were moving yesterday at a much quicker pace than originally anticipated.

Simon disclosed that the focus of the search at the landfill right now is the backpacks that the girls were carrying when they went missing.

One backpack has on the right shoulder strap the word “Faloma” while the left strap has the words “Quitugua Luhk.” It is described as dark purple with writing on both shoulder straps. The brand may be Jansport or similar.

Maleina’s backpack, meanwhile, is Dora the Explorer, Simon said.

He denied rumors circulating yesterday that one of the backpacks had already been recovered.

Simon said the Department of Public Safety’s Fire Division supplied “an army of strong men who were just ready to go, go, go.”

“They’re working very hard to get things done,” he said, adding that the search at the landfill may take three to four more days.

While searching the landfill, other FBI agents are working with the CNMI police in covering leads and knocking on doors and talking to people who might have some information, he said.

Simon’s message to the community: “Don’t give up hope and keep calling in leads.”

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