Landfill search for Nepinak to start in 2 weeks

The high profile search for Tanya Nepinak's remains will start Oct. 2 in Winnipeg's Brady Road landfill.

Search area scaled back to focus on section identified in traditional ceremony

The search area for Tanya Nepinak's remains will be focued on a five-metre-square area, pointed out Wednesday by police. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

The high-profile search for Tanya Nepinak's remains will start Oct. 2 in Winnipeg's Brady Road landfill, but it has been severely scaled back.

The date was announced by police on Wednesday, who had earlier in the day met with Nepinak's family members and community elders to explain their decision to reduce the search area.

Police Chief Keith McCaskill told them that the initial search area identified in early August was already mammoth but had suddenly become impossible.

Due to new and inconsistent information, multiple areas within the landfill were further identified as search areas, stated a police release Wednesday.

"This information has created a massive search area, making it impossible to conduct an effective search," the release stated.

Search area identified by elders

Instead, police will look through an area that had previously been identified by aboriginal elders during a traditional ceremony at the landfill. That search will begin Oct. 2.

McCaskill told reporters at a news conference that the chances of finding Nepinak are less than five per cent but he's keeping an open mind.

"Our commitment to Tanya and her family remains strong," police added in the news release.

Police believe Nepinak, a 31-year-old woman who was last seen on Sept. 13, 2011, in the downtown area of the city, was a victim of Shawn Lamb, who has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.

Nepinak's remains have never been found, but police believe they may be buried somewhere in the city landfill.

Family members grateful

Members of Nepinak's family say they are grateful police will search the area of the landfill identified by the aboriginal elders.

Gail Nepinak, Tanya's sister, told reporters on Wednesday that she's not concerned about the fact the search area has been reduced.

Nepinak said the family — including Vernon Mann, Tanya's former partner — agree with the elders regarding where the remains are likely located.

"Me, Vernon, my mom — [we] always had that same sense, too, where she was because we all felt, like, we could feel her there. Like, it's unbelievable," Gail Nepinak said.

"They're doing this search and, you know, they are going to find her. That's where I am at right now," she added.

The police have been recently criticized for taking so long to launch the search after it was announced in August.