Tracking expert dog to search strategic sites

Posted on Jun 13 2011

A tracking expert dog from Hawaii Civil Defense Agency is expected to join the FBI and CNMI teams in the search for missing sisters Faloma and Maleina Luhk possibly tomorrow, Wednesday, at the earliest, or Thursday.

After the fourth day of scouring about 30,000 cubic feet of trash at Marpi landfill, the FBI and CNMI personnel ended yesterday at 3pm their search at the dumpsite with no trace of evidence or clues in the disappearance of sisters Faloma and Maleina Luhk.

Asked how the FBI is classifying the case now, FBI special agent Tom Simon told Saipan Tribune that in order for them to investigate these cases, they’re working under the assumption that the Luhk sisters’ disappearance is some kind of abduction.

On the deployment of dogs, Simon said the tracking dog, which is a State of Hawaii’s search and rescue dog, is expected to arrive on Saipan either today, Tuesday, or tomorrow, Wednesday.

“This is a dog that is good in search and recovery mission. I don’t know specific stories, but I knew that’s the dog we have for this job,” said Simon, who is the FBI Honolulu media relations coordinator.

He pointed out that the dog will be deployed at strategic locations and not at random searches.

The special agent said the CNMI authorities are nice enough to waive the quarantine obligations for bringing in the dog to the island.

He said the FBI supervisor in Hawaii negotiated the deployment of tracking dog to Saipan.

“This is a dog that’s been trained to search the jungle of Hawaii for missing persons,” Simon said.

On the landfill search, 62 FBI and CNMI personnel completed yesterday the search.

“We discovered no human remains or any evidence of the girls’ disappearance,” he said.

Simon said throughout the search at the dumpsite that began last Wednesday, a total of 100 backpacks, including four Dora the Explorer, were found, but not any belongs to either the missing girls.

Maleina’s backpack is reportedly Dora the Explorer. Faloma’s is a dark purple with a brand Jansport or similar and with a word “Faloma” on the right shoulder strap and the words “Quitugua Luhk” on the left strap.

Simon said they are now looking forward to moving on to the next phase of the investigation.

“We are happy that we did not discover the girls in the landfill,” the special agent said.

With the landfill search done, Simon said they are now looking forward to deploying all of the FBI resources toward running down leads and assisting with the jungle searches with the dog.

On the case classification issue, Simon said they still don’t know what happened to the girls, but in order for the FBI to get involved, they work under the assumption that this is a matter of abduction.

“We only investigate missing persons who may have been abducted when the local authorities need our help,” he stressed.

Simon said no more additional FBI agents are coming to the island.

“Now we feel that the crew of FBI agents we have here are sufficient for the time being. If we need additional FBI resources, they would get on plane immediately,” he said.

He encouraged the public to continue forming groups in the search at jungles.

Ten-year-old Faloma and the 9-year-old Maleina were reportedly last seen near a bus stop in As Teo last May 25.

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