TULSA - Tulsa police say new leads may help them and other agencies solve a 15-year-old cold case of a missing child from Florida.
Ashani Creighton, last seen in the late 1990s, is now believed to have been killed in Florida and buried in Tulsa.
Saturday morning, forensic experts and archeologists joined detectives in searching for Ashani's remains.
According to Tulsa police, the Orange County Sherriff's Office in Orlando developed information that Ashani was murdered in 1999. Her remains were later transported to Tulsa, where detectives believe she is buried near 61st and Mingo.
Police say the burial site has since been covered by a parking lot and commercial buildings.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) made arrangements with Necrosearch International to provide ground-penetrating radar operators and a geophysicist to locate the exact burial site, police say. A local company has donated its services to help with drilling, removing and repairing concrete.
So far, two specialized dogs have honed in on a site in the middle of a concrete parking lot in the area.
Additionally, experts from the Oklahoma Archeological Survey and the State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will assist with recovery and identification if the remains are found.
According to the NCMEC, Ashani was last seen by her mother on March 21, 1997. News reports from that time indicate she was thought to be in Florida with her grandparents, Ernest and Kaia Jackson.
New Jersey police arrested the Jacksons in 1988 for torturing their then 8-year-old son. The boy was found with bruises and burns all over his body after escaping the family's home.
The couple posted bail and fled the state. They remained fugitives until their arrest in Tulsa in 2000. A Tulsa resident alerted authorities when they recognized the Jacksons on an episode of America's Most Wanted.
Tulsa County prosecutors charged Ernest and Kaia for a separate incident of child abuse. Kaia was sentenced to 35 years and is currently incarcerated in Oklahoma. Ernest was found not guilty but returned to New Jersey to serve just over six years in state prison for the 1988 case.
Crews said they will have to stop after the sun goes down, but will resume Sunday morning.