Sheriff’s Task Force In Nightmarish 5-Day Search Of Landfill For Six-Year-Old’s Body

A substantial task force of volunteers and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department personnel, including the department’s search and rescue team, this week have devoted themselves to the gruesome undertaking of searching the county’s Victorville landfill for the body of six-year-old Duke Flores.
On Thursday, April 25, at approximately 10:06 pm, deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department stationed in Apple Valley as members of that town’s police department responded to a residence in the 22000 block of Cherokee Avenue following a request for a welfare check from one of Duke Flores’ relatives. Upon arrival, deputies were told by Duke Flores’ mother, Jackee Contreras, 29, that her son had not been seen for approximately two weeks. Deputies immediately began a search of the area. Jackee Contreras was arrested, transported and booked into the High Desert Detention Center for child neglect, stemming from her delay in reporting her son missing. She was later transferred to the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.
On Friday, April 26, detectives from the homicide detail of the sheriff’s department’s specialized investigations division responded to the Cherokee Avenue residence to conduct an investigation. The search continued for the child and canine units were requested and responded to the location. Detectives gathered evidence and conducted multiple interviews throughout the day with family members. On Saturday, April 27, homicide detectives interviewed Jackee Contreras and at the conclusion of her interview she was booked for murder, PC 187, and was held without bail.
Later on April 27, detectives arrested Jennifer Contreras, described as Jackee Contreras’ twin siter and Duke’s aunt, transported and booked her into the High Desert Detention Center on a PC 187 charge. She, too, was held without bail.
The department says there is reason to believe the child’s body was disposed of in a dumpster. It has not been disclosed why investigators believe that is the case.
At 7:15 am on Monday, April 29, a crew involving an unspecified number of homicide detectives, sheriff’s department volunteers and landfill personnel were actively searching the landfill in Victorville for the body of Duke Flores.
By 1 pm that day, the search team had swelled to four homicide detectives, 36 sheriff’s department volunteers, three canines, and 17 additional sheriff’s department members as well as landfill personnel. The primary area being searched was approximately 70 feet x 70 feet x 10 feet in depth, involving some 600 tons of material.
On April 30, Jackee Contreras and Jennifer Contreras were brought before Superior Court Judge Lisa Rogan for arraignment in Victorville Superior Court. With more than a dozen of Duke Flores’ family members present, they each entered a single not guilty plea to one count of murder. Judge Rogan set their bail at $1 million each.
At 8 am that morning, the search at the Victorville landfill resumed, entailing a team of homicide detectives, 19 sheriff’s department volunteers, two search dogs, 15 sheriff’s deputies and county public works division employees. The search concluded at 5 pm without success.
At 8 am May 1 the efforts of  homicide detectives, 16 volunteers, three search dogs, 12 additional sheriff’s deputies and landfill workers continued. At 5 pm Duke Flores’ body had not been turned up.
Yesterday, May 2, detectives, 17 volunteers, three dogs, a dozen deputies and county personnel employed at the landfill sifted through some 1,200 tons of rubbish,, again to no avail.
As of  7:45 am this morning, homicide detectives, nine volunteers, two search dogs and 12 deputies were back at the landfill.
Mark Gutglueck

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