Three Ellis County Precinct 2 workers received recognition this week in an award ceremony by the Dallas Police Department.

Pct. 2 foreman Sammy Pleiner, road worker Chad Spence and mechanic Leon Zajic each received a Citizen’s Certificate of Merit from the Dallas Police Department.

The nominations for the awards were made by Sergeant Brenda Nichols from the Crimes Against Children unit of the Investigations Bureau of the Dallas Police Department.

“It is with great pleasure and honor that I nominate Mr. Sammy Pleiner, Mr. Chad Spencer and Mr. Leon Zajic for the Citizen’s Certificate of Merit for going above and beyond the expectations of any private citizen in the search for this murdered, discarded child. Their unselfish devotion to assist in the search for this child’s remains and to bring the perpetrators to justice was immeasurable,” Nichols said in her nomination letter.

On April 21, the child abuse squad of the Dallas Police Department was involved in a massive search for the remains of a young child who had been murdered and the body discarded in an isolated area of Ellis County.

The area consisted of a large creek and several huge fields. The creek bed was filled with water and the terrain was extremely dense with vegetation, trees, debris and a lot of mud.

“The area was also infested with mosquitoes, snakes, ticks and a variety of other wild animals and insects,” Nichols said.

The child abuse squad had made two other previous unsuccessful attempts to search the area in hopes of discovering the remains of the child.

Police officials then met with Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson and Pleiner at the search location and requested assistance from Ellis County.

Pleiner, Spence and Zajic, the child abuse squad, Search One K-9 Search & Rescue, and Victim Relief Ministries.

The Pct. 2 workers brought in industrial strength water pumps and began pumping water from the creek.

“These three men volunteered their time and efforts for seven hours. One of the K-9 teams hit on the scent of a cadaver. The child’s remains were found in a sleeping bag, as described by the suspect, under debris,” Nichols said.

The same area had been previously searched.

“We were glad to help out,” Pleiner said in an interview. We are glad they found the body.”

Pleiner described the area as full of snakes. “Every time we picked something up or moved something a snake would come out. People have been using it as a dump ground for dead animals. I was surprised to see so many dead dogs as the water level dropped.”

Pleiner said he and his coworkers were pleased to receive the honor.

“We certainly did not expect to be recognized. It was really nice of them to do that. It was really nice,” he said.

Nichols concluded her nomination with “Had it not been for the efforts of these three men, who volunteered time and equipment, the child’s remains would still be undiscovered and the prosecution of the perpetrators would have been extremely difficult.”

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