NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A local veteran-led search and rescue team set out into a wooded area in Newport News to search for a missing mother, Shanitia Eure-Lewis.
We Are The Emergency Response (W.A.T.E.R. Team Inc.) looked near the Gethsemane Baptist Church where Eure-Lewis was last seen.
“It frustrates me every day,” Joe Slabinski, the founder and team leader of W.A.T.E.R Team Inc., said.
He is frustrated that Eure-Lewis hasn’t been found.
“At the end of the day, it’s about bringing closure to the family,” he said.
Despite the extreme heat, his team searched through tall grass and a water creek.
He said the combination of the location being remote, the tall grass and the creek bed made it a good spot to search.
“It’s got a lane you can pull in and be off the beaten path, nobody would know you were back there. You can do what you have to do and get out of there very quickly,” he said.
The search Friday was unsuccessful.
“There is no evidence of foul play in those body of woods,” he said.
Friday concludes the second day of searches for W.A.T.E.R Team Inc. They only recently got involved.
Slabinski said his team decided to start searching when no one information came out.
“We are starting from the ground zero or the nuclear and we pushing out from there,” he said.
The team’s search Thursday did reveal something.
“We found clothing. We called all that in. A bag of female items and we are going to say male clothing and boots,” Slabinski said.
A Newport News Police Department spokesperson said they have determined the items have nothing to do with Eure-Lewis.
Early in the search, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said he didn’t need help from the community with grid searches as his team wasn’t performing any. He tells 10 On Your Side he doesn’t discourage anyone from looking in their neighborhoods.
“I am not discouraging individuals that want to go out and walk in neighbors and things like that,” he told 10 On Your Side.
He said right now, they have enough tips that are leading the departments’ search.
“There very well may come a time I ask the citizens of this community,” Chief Drew said. “I am not at a point where I can tell the community this area is an area we can walk.”
He said for now, his detectives have credible information.
“We still have an active investigation. We still have good information coming in not only from tips but from the departments’ ability,” he said. “We are actively sending officer, detectives and forensics technicians to very directed locations.”
Chief Drew told 10 On Your Side they have something they are looking at today that could help them next week. He said they just need to shorten a time window.
“The information we are getting is very specific,” he said.
He made a promise to the community.
“I can guarantee the citizens of this community that finding her is our priority,” Chief Drew said.
Slabinski said his team is here to help the Newport News Police Department.
“We are not here to hinder them. We are here to help them,” Slabinski said.
He said his team will spend time with their family this weekend and resume the search Monday.