By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Sheriff’s detectives yesterday finished up two days of searching two wells and digging through mounds of garbage at a property south of Winlock after getting tips the body of the missing Kayla Croft-Payne had been dumped there.
Nothing of interest was located except for a dog carcass, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said today.
The Lewis County girl vanished three years ago. She was 18 years old when a missing person report was made, days after her last posting on social network sites.
Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the office had received several tips Croft-Payne had been killed and either buried or tossed down a well at property on the 1500 block of Ferrier Road.
She said the young woman used to hang out with the people who lived there.
The owners gave detectives permission to conduct the search, according to the sheriff’s office. Brown said she didn’t know if the property has changed hands.
The sheriff’s office says the place is known as “the farm” by those who frequent it.
Brown said detectives excavated a 20-foot deep well which had recently been filled with trash and debris. They used a pump to drain a 35-foot deep well.
A neighbor assisted with his backhoe and the detectives worked sixteen hours on Wednesday and Thursday, but turned up nothing, according to Brown.
According to Brown, deputies had received information in the past about the location which was vague, but two new tips in the past three weeks offered more detail.
Sheriff Steve Mansfield said in a prepared statement his people worked diligently and conducted a thorough search.
“This case has been troubling for our office and we still hope to find Kayla and bring closure to her family and friends,” Mansfield stated.
At a gathering the weekend before last at Penny Playground in Chehalis, family and some friends marked the three year anniversary since Croft-Payne disappeared.
Her aunt has connected with a Vancouver, Wash.-based organization that is investigating women and girls exploited by online modeling sites.
Croft-Payne wanted to be a model, and spoke of getting photographs taken for a portfolio.
Earlier this week, the sheriff’s office outlined the lengths it has gone to pursue that lead, noting they now know it was a different modeling site that Croft-Payne used than the one they checked.
Brown says the case has never been dormant, and detectives continue to follow all leads.
The sheriff’s office asks anyone who knows anything about the case to please call them at 360-748-9286 or contact Crime Stoppers of Lewis County, at 1-800-748-6422.
For background, read “News brief: Model Mayhem website not involved in missing Lewis County girl’s case” from Tuesday May 7, 2013, here