Sheriff’s deputies have narrowed their search for missing Olympia woman Gail Doyle to a remote landfill outside of Thurston County.
Sgt. Carla Carter said Tuesday she’s “about 90 percent sure” that James E. Stidd left Doyle’s body at a Thurston County transfer station and that her remains were later transported to the other facility. Carter declined to give the location of the out-of-town landfill, citing security concerns.
The search for Doyle is a large-scale effort involving 15 Thurston County Sheriff’s Office employees and people from other agencies, Carter said.
“This is a very, very strong lead,” Carter said. “That’s why we’re devoting so many resources to it.”
Doyle, 60, was last seen June 2 in the company of Stidd, 66. Stidd was identified as a suspect in the case and arrested early June 9 near Ritzville. He was charged with one count of second-degree murder and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Carter said detectives believe Stidd left Doyle’s body at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center. According to court documents, video surveillance shows Stidd at the location June 4.
Detectives talked to an employee, who reported that Stidd asked what happens to items left at the Waste and Recovery Center. The employee told him that the waste is taken to another site and eventually incinerated, according to court documents. Stidd allegedly responded, “Perfect.”
On June 11, the Sheriff’s Office reported they had found what they believed to be Doyle’s remains. The remains were brought back to Thurston County and then taken by the Coroner’s Office to a forensic anthropologist at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office released a statement Monday saying that the remains weren’t human.
“We jumped the gun on that,” Carter said. “So now we want to be as thorough as possible.”
Coroner Gary Warnock said the remains found Saturday likely belonged to a bear. The mistake, he said, is a common one. Bear paws that have been skinned and human hands can look nearly identical to the untrained eye.
“If you weren’t well versed in human anatomy, you would think, ‘Oh my God, that’s human,’ ” Warnock said.
Warnock said that one of his deputies will now remain at the search location to help identify any remains found.
Carter said the Sheriff’s Office team is digging through what she described as a “mountain of refuse” with the help of bulldozers.
“We plan on going through every inch of material brought over from Thurston County until we find her,” Carter said.
Meanwhile, Stidd remains in the Thurston County Jail. He appeared in court June 10, and a judge set bail at $2 million. A warrant for his arrest was issued June 8 after detectives found blood splatter and strands of blond hair around a blood-covered hammer in Stidd’s garage, according to court documents.
Stidd and Doyle were seen arguing at an Olympia tavern the night of June 2. The two left together, and Stidd told detectives that he dropped Doyle off on Martin Way.
Stidd will be arraigned in Thurston County Superior Court on June 21.