Botanical search for Baby Kate resumes Saturday

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) -- More than 100 volunteers this weekend are searching various sites throughout northern Mason County in the hopes of finding clues that will lead them to Baby Kate.

One year ago in a courtroom in Ludington a friend of Sean Phillips told the jury months before Baby Kate went missing, Sean boasted that he knew how to hide a body so it could never be found.

Saturday marks exactly two years since Baby Kate disappeared, but Friday a unique two-day search began for plants that could lead police to the child and bring closure to her mother, family, and this case.

Very early Friday morning volunteers with plant knowledge began to gather to review exactly what police want them to find. Among them, retired biologist Robert Kavetsky.

He was drawn to this botanical search, in part because of a painful memory. "An experience in my own family with a member who did not get a proper burial."

Kavetsky and 100 others searchers want to find a handful of different plants. Trace elements of each were recovered from the bottom of Sean Phillips' shoes.

Friday afternoon those volunteers gathered in northern Mason County, each hoping to contribute to a case that still involves a missing child.

"If I was on the other side I would want somebody to help me," says volunteer Craig Elson. "It's a chance to use my interest and knowledge to help someone out."

U.S. Forest Service workers like Pat McGhan were there to help too. They've been studying the plants in recent weeks. "We have been looking at them. These are plants we do not see everyday so we are studying characteristics to make sure we are looking for the right thing," says McGhan.

The botanical search is intended to develop pieces to a big puzzle-- pieces that someday may fit together and lead police to Baby Kate. Plant and moss specimens will be processed in a laboratory and treated as potential evidence.

The botanical search continues at 8 a.m. Saturday. Police hope weeks from now to better understand where in Mason County the plants found on Phillips shoes are growing and better narrow the focus of their search for Baby Kate.


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