Investigators have found a lower jawbone, that they believe belonged to a human, after digging for evidence as part of an investigation into a soon-to-be-fired Philadelphia homicide detective.
Philadelphia Police crime scene investigators began searching for clues in an alley near a baseball field at 4th and Westmoreland Streets in North Philadelphia around 3 p.m. on Friday, officials said.
Police confirm the search is connected to a probe into the case work done by former homicide detective Ron Dove.
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Dove, a 16-year veteran of the force, was suspended with the intent to dismiss earlier this month for allegedly lying to police. Officials say Dove helped his girlfriend, 33-year-old Erica Sanchez, in the hours after she allegedly murdered her ex-husband, Cesar Vera, in September.
Sources say the detective allegedly moved Sanchez's vehicle from the crime scene, allowed her to use his car, hired her an attorney and told other detectives to "go easy on her."
Officials recently began reviewing several other murder cases he worked after the allegations surfaced and say they uncovered information that Dove may have mishandled several cases. The evidence, sources say, was found on the former detective's iPad.
Sources tell NBC10 Dove is suspected of covering up three murders and a man's disappearance. That man, Reynaldo Torres, has been missing since last year.
Torres went missing along with his friend Melanie Colon. She was later found shot to death behind an apartment complex.
Sources say investigators now believe Vera, Sanchez's ex-husband, had a part in Torres' disappearance and Colon's murder.
Both cases were handled by Dove and sources say police think he somehow concealed evidence from other detectives.
Colon's family as well as the family of another murder victim, Leslie Delzingaro, told NBC10 they had serious concerns about Dove's handling of the investigations.
Eileen DiFrancesco, Delzingaro's mother, believes Dove bungled her daughter's case. A 45-year-old saleswoman on a work visit, Delzingaro was shot to death inside a Olney bar in 2010. That bar was owned by the father of Dove's girlfriend.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey did visit the crime scene to oversee part of the investigation on Friday, sources said.
Detectives have been searching and digging in the same area for the past month, but had yet to find any evidence, according to sources.
The Medical Examiner's Office is testing the dug-up jawbone to determine whether it belongs to a human.
Philadelphia Police crime scene units have finished their search for the evening and plan to resume digging on Saturday morning.