Searchers are expected to resume their hunt on the former Charleston Naval Base this morning for clues to the vexing disappearance of Brandy Hanna, who vanished from her nearby home six years ago.
Working under a scorching sun Monday, a team of volunteers led by state archaeologist Jonathan Leader began clearing and searching an area where a tennis shoe recently was found by detectives. Donna Parent, Hanna's mother, has said the white Nike almost certainly belonged to her daughter.
Leader and police had no comment on the day's operation. But Parent said detectives told her much of the effort was focused on cutting thick marsh grass and brush for a more intensive day of searching.
About a half-dozen volunteers could be seen working the area with shovels, rakes and weed trimmers. The site is near Riverfront Park, just south of the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial and about 30 yards from the Cooper River. A psychic reportedly led police to the area where the shoe was found.
The spot is located in a secure area on the base, surrounded by a chain-link fence and guarded by a security officer. The general public was not allowed inside. North Charleston police told reporters to stage at the park next door because of security concerns at the base.
The volunteer team looked to be staking out a search grid alongside a cement wall near a patch of woods. They spent a little more than four hours working the area before breaking shortly before 1 p.m. as temperatures climbed into the 90s.
Parent stayed away from the search site, not wanting to see what the team might find. She chose to watch her grandchildren to keep her worries in check, but the day's activities were never far from her thoughts.
'I'm constantly thinking about it. I can't get it off of my mind,' she said. 'It's a nightmare you don't ever want to go through. Unfortunately I have. Right now, I'm just hoping to find some type of closure.'
The recent discovery of the tennis shoe was announced Friday, the sixth anniversary of Hanna's disappearance. The shoe was found about a mile from the Florida Avenue apartment where Hanna was last seen before she vanished without a trace.
On May 20, 2005, Hanna worked an early shift at Alex's Restaurant on Dorchester Road before getting a ride home that afternoon from a customer. She had big plans for the weekend — shopping Friday night, a trip to the beach Saturday and breakfast with her mother and brother Sunday.
Parent talked to her daughter by phone that evening. Hanna sent a text message to a friend at 8 p.m., and another to a boyfriend just after 10 p.m. And then nothing.
Hanna left behind her clothes, money and an apartment devoid of clues. Police questioned her boyfriend at the time, Zeke Lankford, as well as a former boyfriend, Ray McAdams. Both men passed polygraph tests, and lacking any other clues, the case has languished for years. McAdams has since died.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556.