09/06/2012 09:57 EDT | Updated 11/06/2012 05:12 EST

Tanya Nepinak Murder: Police Have Still Not Searched For Body Of Slain Winnipeg Woman In Landfill


WINNIPEG - Relatives of a Winnipeg woman thought to be the victim of an alleged serial killer say they are frustrated that police have yet to launch a promised search for her body in the city's landfill.

Police Chief Keith McCaskill said Thursday he still doesn't know when efforts to find Tanya Nepinak's remains will begin.

McCaskill said police have run into a few more roadblocks than they foresaw and need to do more preparation to make sure workers are safe while sifting through the site.

"You may have aerosol cans in there, you may have propane tanks in there, you may have needles in there, you may have disease," he said. "So you have to look at all that from a safety perspective, first of all."

Nepinak's sister Gail was upset at the latest delay.

"Then why would he even go on the news and say that they were going to do it in the first place?" she asked.

She noted the area where police believe they will find the body is flat and compressed, and not covered with loose materials.

"They know not to put garbage there, because they know my sister is there," she said, adding that the attitude of police toward the search for her sister has been baffling.

"From my point of view, I see it as a racial thing. If it was one of their family members, they would have people out there. If it was a police officer's family member, they would have people searching."

Police have previously said the search site is about as long as a football field and 20 metres wide. They will have to dig eight metres down before they get to the layer where they believe her body has lain since a truck dumped its load from a trash bin in the city's west end sometime within the last year.

Police have also said there is only a five per cent chance of finding the remains.

Nepinak, 31, has been missing since last September.

Shawn Lamb, 52, has been charged with second-degree murder in her death and in those of two other women — Lorna Blacksmith, 18, and Carolyn Sinclair, 25. Sinclair's body was found in March in a downtown garbage bin and Blacksmith's body was discovered, wrapped in plastic, near another bin.

Calls for inquiries into missing and murdered indigenous women have grown since Lamb was charged, but have so far been rebuffed by the provincial and federal governments.

Relations between the Nepinak family and police have been strained from the start. The family said officers originally told them a search was unlikely as it could cost up to $1 million.

Gail Nepinak said Thursday that no one is answering the family's questions.

She said the detective assigned to speak with them is on vacation and no one is filling in for her.

"Why would they only have one person working on her whole case? They should have at least three or four."

She said her parents have also been frustrated in their attempts to get information.

"My mom's the kindest person you'd ever know and now she just snaps at people. That's how angry she is. She cries every night and is praying and praying that they'll do something."

Gail Nepinak said all her family wants is for her sister to be respected as a human being, and for the police to carry through on their promise.

"I was at my grieving point when she first went missing," she explained. "I was at my scared and sad point when I heard she got murdered. Now I'm at my angry stage, where they're not even doing anything when they said they were."

-- With files from CJOB

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