Digging Through Trash Turns Up "Treasures" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/16/05-Smith County/Tyler

Digging Through Trash Turns Up "Treasures"

"We're going to an illegal dump site on County Road 471," Danny Brasher, Smith County's environmental crimes investigator, said.

He has been investigating illegal dumping for eight years. But some things still get to him, as you'll see.

First, we head back into the woods, following a trail of household trash. Brasher says he almost always finds clues leading him to a suspect.

"What I'll do is get out and see if I can get some names," he said.

Armed with impenetrable gloves and a shovel, Brasher is ready to get his hands dirty.

"Take pictures before anything's moved," he said.

Torn-up furniture, an old pair of shoes, a Nirvana CD, toxic chemicals, you name it. The Stewart family also left behind all sorts of identifying information.

"Three pieces of evidence with the same name on it," Brasher said, picking up discarded mail and phone bills.

"Hmm. DNA," Brasher said, finding a tuft of hair. "You have to wade through the maggots. They're still eating on it."

"So we know so far that, even all the way back up into here, is the Stewart legacy," Brasher said, wading through trash piled several feet high and dozens of feet wide. "It'll be a state jail felony."

Our next dump site is near a beautiful field with flowers and homes nearby. And when you get there, you wonder why the trash cans were taken out with the trash.

The second pile of trash is not quite as big as the first one, so the man who dumped there will be cited for a Class A misdemeanor.

"That's the only thing that bothers me... baby diapers," Brasher said.

But even the stench doesn't keep Brasher from digging deeper.

"Dig under the baby diapers and voila!" Brasher triumphantly holds up a license plate -- convicting evidence.

As it turns out, all the trash at the second site belongs to a man who lives only yards away. But he was not home at the time, when Brasher knocked on his door. So Brasher left his business card.

The trash from the first dump site belongs to a Tyler woman, who was also out.

If Brasher does not hear from them soon, they'll be hearing from him.

He says he'll probably give the illegal dumpers a citation and tell them to clean up, but they can be arrested.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com


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