Police use cadaver dogs in search of Stebic home

Police can’t give any specifics of what dogs found

June 10, 2007

Dogs trained to identify dead bodies made a positive hit during a search of missing Plainfield woman Lisa Stebic’s home, police sources say.

Plainfield Police Chief Donald Bennett confirmed that cadaver dogs were used during the search for Stebic, who was reported missing May 1 by a neighbor.

“We did have cadaver dogs in the residence,” Bennett said Friday. “I can’t give any specifics about what the dogs did or didn’t do while in the residence.”

But sources close to the investigation say Lisa’s husband, Craig Stebic, allowed authorities to search his home in the Walker’s Grove subdivision on two occasions before a search warrant was executed at the home May 14. On one of those prior searches, cadaver dogs were brought in and made a positive hit on an article in the home, an unnamed police source said.

It was not immediately clear whether the dogs zeroed in on an article of clothing, a piece of furniture, an appliance or other item in the home.

Since Lisa’s disappearance, authorities have categorically described the case as a missing persons investigation, saying Lisa’s cell phone and credit cards have not been used since she was last reported seen by her husband almost six weeks ago.

German shepherds and other breeds trained to identify the scent of decomposing human flesh are often used in missing persons investigations. The reliability and accuracy of the animals’ findings often depend on how much experience the dogs and their handlers have, said Tom Brenneman, one of the nation’s top trainers of dogs used in criminal investigations.

“It boils down to their training and the reputation of their trainer,” said Brenneman, owner and chief trainer of the Vom Kaiserhofe Training Center in Lawrence, Kan. “Have the dogs been able to detect cadavers before, in the field? If you’re talking accuracy, you look at what the dog has done in the past.”

Reliable cadaver dogs maintain at least six to eight hours of training each week, Brenneman said.

No information was immediately available about the dogs that made the positive hit at the Stebic home, or what law-enforcement agency provided them.

Bennett did say that after more than five weeks of searching unsuccessfully for the missing mother of two, they are now expanding their search area.

Police have expanded their search to areas outside of Plainfield, Bennett said.

Bennett did not elaborate on where the search would expand within Illinois or outside the state.

Melanie Greenberg, wife of Lisa’s cousin Mark, said the family is “confident the police are using every available resource to them.”

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