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Search for Pipeliner’s Body Continues

courtesy of Macomb Police Department

Police spent the past couple days searching a landfill north of Macomb and several dumpsters along the right-of-way to the Flanagan South pipeline project, but to no avail.

"He may have quickly dumped it off someplace or he may have known where there was a good place deep out in the county where he could take the body and drop it."

They're trying to locate the body of Juan Bustamante, 65, who went missing along with his roommate, Jose Bustos-Bravo, 45, on Thursday, Feb. 27. Bustos-Bravo was captured in Aurora, Colorado over the weekend. He confessed to killing Bustamante and dumping the body in the Macomb area before hanging himself while in custody of local police in Colorado.

Bustos-Bravo’s statement has not been released to Macomb Police because of an ongoing investigation into his death in Colorado. But Eric Lenardt, Deputy Chief with the Macomb Police Department, said they were told Bustos-Bravo indicated  that the carpet he wrapped around Bustamante’s body ended up in the landfill.

Police say they're unsure if that mean's Bustos-Bravo took the body to the landfill or, due to the nature of his job for the pipeline, being familiar with the dumpsters he dumped the body there.

“If he doesn’t know the area all that well, which he may or may not have, he may have quickly dumped it off someplace or he may have known where there was a good place deep out in the county where he could take the body and drop it,” Lenardt says.

Police have ruled out the possibility that the body was buried due to cold conditions and the ground being frozen.  Police are asking citizens to report any areas they know of where illegal dumping often occurs, and residents in rural parts of the county are asked to be especially vigilant.  

“We know that there are people out there who have burn piles at the back part of their farm or something where they take stuff to burn. If they haven’t been out there for a while maybe go out there and take a look and see if they find something,” Lenardt said.  

Police have been able to account for most of Bustos-Bravo’s day on Thursday, Feb. 27 before he left town aside from a three hour window between 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. when Bustos-Bravo was recorded by security cameras driving Bustamante’s car and leaving it in the Walmart parking lot.

Police say their next step is to explore cell phone records in an effort to find Bustos-Bravo’s location during that three hour window.

Bustamante, Bustos-Bravo, and two others had been living in the house at 1513 E. Murray St. in Macomb. The men were in the area to work on the Flanagan South pipeline project. The roommates who reported finding blood in the home after returning from work, Thursday, Feb. 27 told investigators there had been no indication of a dispute between Bustos-Bravo and Bustamante.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.