PHOENIX — A search of a Phoenix-area landfill has passed the halfway mark without finding any sign of a missing 34-year-old woman believed to be a homicide victim.

Phoenix police on Wednesday completed the fifth week of what could be a nine-week search begun Oct. 23 for remains of Christine Mustafa.

Crews have examined nearly 6,000 tons (5,443 metric tons) of material, said Sgt. Alan Pfohl, a Police Department spokesman. “So far we have not located anything of evidentiary value.”

Oct. 23 video previously released by the department showed dozens of searchers wearing rubber boots and protective clothing and face masks using long-tined rakes to examine material excavated from the landfill by a power shovel.

Mustafa was reported missing May 11, and police have said investigators eliminated all other possibilities before concluding that her body is likely at the landfill southwest of Phoenix.

A Feb. 22 trial is scheduled for ex-boyfriend Robert John Interval, who on June 27 pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

A hearing is scheduled Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court on a defense motion to allow Interval to be released either on his own recognizance or on bond.

Prosecutors’ position on the defense motion isn’t known. They filed a response under seal.

Family members told police that Mustafa feared Interval and planned to leave him. Police checking on Mustafa found her car, purse and cellphone at the couple’s home.

Authorities unsuccessfully searched a Phoenix-area landfill after a 5-year-old Glendale girl’s body was dumped in 2011 after she was beaten, neglected and confined to a closet.

Jhessye Shockley’s mother, Jerice Hunter, was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse and sentenced to life in prison.

Jhessye’s body was never found.

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PAUL DAVENPORT
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