Low-profile search unfolds this morning in isolated desert
Friday, July 7, 2000
(Socorro County, New Mexico) Before the sun appeared, they gathered. A core group of investigators. Two highly trained searchers and their dogs. And the sum of their collective hope. Everyone here set out to find that ultimate connection to a pleasant, petite woman described by many as humble, dependable and strong. A survivor. That “connection” would be what remains of her body.
Girly Chew Hossencofft disappeared September 9, 1999. Her family and friends have now long believed that she was murdered by the violent husband she had left. And his girlfriend. And maybe a hitman, too.
Ten months later, it takes about 40-minutes to make it up that stretch of parched, desert road. The dirt path is often more arroyo than road. Sixteen miles of ruts, dips, rock and sand. This is one place you wouldn’t want to be without a 4-wheel-drive in a Monsoon.
But this morning is quiet. The new day’s sky is mostly clear. Although, the air already feels a tad wet. A promise of afternoon rain lingers in the air.
View the July 7th search photos
An antelope dashes across the road in front of my Explorer. Three more sprint by. They pause, then continue. My Cannon’s lens captures one in the distance.
It’s easy to stop and take photographs throughout these 16-miles. But the urge to photograph finally gives way to a sense of something much greater.
I pull-up just as the search party is about to set-out. Wendy Brunish is sharing words of encouragement with her “Miranda”. The Heeler/Doberman mix is a “cadaver dog”.
The handful of searchers has parked its trucks and SUVs on the east side of the forest road. Slim trickles of water weave their way along the same path.
Another dog, “Jasper”, gives his immediate attention to a long abandoned home. The dry floorboards are covered with bits of broken glass, empty tin food cans, rodent droppings, and mattress springs. Strangely, cow dung is piled high in the corner of one small room. A white powder appears in a nearby corner. Jasper detects no human remains.
An actual arroyo winds below the abandoned home. Green vegetation springs from its banks and appears florescent in the morning light.
But Girly’s location remains a dark secret.
The police detectives, the DA’s investigators and the dogs focus on this precise location. The area is much smaller than the massive search two weeks earlier about 30-miles southwest of here.
For three hours, everyone hunts…for the one already believed to have been hunted. And killed.
The search is here because Bill Miller was here. While not charged with any crime in the Hossencofft case, Miller has been in the investigation’s spotlight nearly from its beginning. Indeed, the pages of search warrants dedicated to his name exceeds Mr. Hossencofft’s total. Investigators have long considered the possibility that Miller was hired to kill Girly (please see earlier stories in The Horner Report).
Less than five miles beyond this search location is another home. It’s hardly deserted.
An older man and woman share it. Not married. They are companions. And they are trusting friends of Bill Miller. They say he’s been harassed by police. And pray that this reporter keeps an “open mind”.
The search continues to reach out for the woman who worshipped the Budhist Goddess of Mercy since her childhood. Could she be burried in that canyon? Beyond that ridge? Hmmm…the ground looks recently turned over here. Where’s the shovel? Turn your back on these countless impulses and marry yourself to the more disturbing question.
Did I just choose to walk away from her?
Her family desperately wants her returned to Malaysia. Her homeland.
Murder convictions might come without a body.
Closure, it seems, can not.