Authorities Monday were searching an area of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic as part of an investigation into the disappearance and presumed death of a woman who was reported missing last month.
Heidi Planck, 39, was reported missing by her ex-husband Oct. 20, and the case was turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division Oct. 29, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Since that time, detectives have worked tirelessly to gather leads related to Planck’s disappearance,” police said in a statement.
Planck was last seen Oct. 17 at an apartment complex at 1201 S. Hope St. in the downtown Los Angeles area. Video captured her walking her dog in the area, and the dog was later found on an upper floor of the same building, police said.
“Forensic evidence was located inside the building which has led detectives to believe an incident occurred resulting in Planck’s death,” police said.
On Nov. 4, Planck’s 2017 Range Rover was discovered in the underground parking garage of a residential building several blocks away, according to the LAPD.
Planck’s ex-husband, Jim Wayne, told reporters Planck had attended their young son’s football game earlier that day in Downey, but she left early and appeared “antsy.” Wayne reported her missing after she failed to pick up her son from school on Oct. 20 in West Los Angeles.
On Monday, the investigation led to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, at 29201 Henry Mayo Drive in Castaic, police said.
“There is currently no suspect information,” police said.
Authorities served a search warrant at the landfill “to excavate a specific area of the landfill, manually search it for human remains and collect any related evidence,” police said.
“It is anticipated this search and recovery operation could take approximately seven to 10 days to complete,” police said. “There may be an impact on community members who live around the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, specifically the community of Val Verde. Efforts are being made to minimize and mitigate that impact. We ask for the community’s understanding and support during this search and recovery effort.”
Wayne had speculated to reporters earlier that the woman’s disappearance may be related to Planck’s work as financial controller of Camden Capital Partners, a company under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly bilking millions of dollars in pension funds. According to media reports, Camden Capital executive Jason Sugarman was seen at Planck’s home days before she disappeared.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Wayne said he still has no idea why Planck would have been at the downtown high-rise building, and he pleaded for anyone who might have information to come forward.
“I think most of you now know that I have an 11-year-old boy at home,” he said. “Our 11-year-old boy needs to know what has happened to his mom. And that’s why I’m making an appeal to the press today to say we need some help.”
He said police have told him “there’s anywhere between one and four or five people that will know exactly what’s happened. And we need them to come forward.” He said he did not have any additional information on who those people might be.
Wayne got emotional when asked about his response to news that police believe Planck was killed at the downtown high-rise.
“It’s really difficult, guys,” he said. “… We have a child together. An 11-year-old boy needs some answers. The family needs some answers. The friends need answers. Everybody’s kind of left in a loop with no answers.”
Operators of the privately run Chiquita Canyon Landfill said they were working with investigators searching the facility for “evidence that may have been brought to the landfill for disposal.”
“Investigators are following specific health and safety protocols approved by state, local and regional regulatory agencies, and are implementing measures to reduce any potential impacts to the local community resulting from such investigation, including dust and odor mitigation,” according to landfill officials.
Involved in the operation were LAPD detectives and personnel from the Los Angeles city Department of Public Works, the city Fire Department, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The LAPD requested help from the community, including anyone who lives at 1201 S. Hope St., or who was at or near that building on or around Oct. 17. People with information on the case were urged to call the Robbery-Homicide Division at 213-486-6840; 877-LAPD-247; or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.