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Authorities begin digging for remains of 7-year-old who disappeared in 1961 in Santa Barbara

June 21, 2011 | 11:40 am

Untitled-1 Police in Santa Barbara on Tuesday morning started excavating near a freeway bridge, hoping they find the remains of a 7-year-old girl who disappeared in 1961.

Last week, specially trained search dogs keyed in on an area at the base of a bridge spanning Highway 101 at Winchester Canyon Road.  When the bridge was built, one of the heavy-equipment operators on the job was Mack Ray Edwards, who later confessed to the murders of six California children.  At about the same time, Ramona Price disappeared as she walked down a street near her Santa Barbara home.

Lt. Donald Paul McCaffrey, a department spokesman, said a different set of dogs would be working the site Tuesday to narrow the "area of interest." Also on hand will be a Los Angeles police detective familiar with burial sites Edwards used for his victims, and a Caltrans equipment team.

An anthropologist also will be present should remains be found.

Police had said a decision to excavate could take weeks.  But McCaffrey on Tuesday said the department sped up its timeline, partly at the request of Caltrans, which is in the process of demolishing the 50-year-old bridge. A new span has been built several hundred yards down the 101.

McCaffrey said members of Ramona Price’s family have been notified about the excavation but do not plan to be present.

RELATED:

From the archives: Digging for body in 1968 slaying

Girl who went missing in 1961 may be victim of serial killer Mack Ray Edwards

Dogs find 'area of interest' in search for Ramona Price remains

-- Steve Chawkins

Photos: Mack Ray Edwards, left (credit: LAPD); Ramona Price (Family handout).

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