Police, with shovels, backhoe, and drone, search for evidence of missing Alpena teen

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz An ambulance sits parked near an Alpena Township where police searched for evidence in the case of missing Alpena teen Brynn Bills on Tuesday. The ambulance left shortly after arriving, with a Michigan State Police car following it. Police would not say what, if anything, they found in the search.

ALPENA ― With a backhoe, a drone, and an extensive police presence, officers on Tuesday searched behind an Alpena Township home for evidence related to missing Alpena teen Brynn Bills.

Acting on a tip, police executed a search warrant on the home following the arrest of its resident Monday night on charges not obviously connected to the missing teen.

Reporters on the scene saw police pull shovels from a police vehicle during the search, and a backhoe arrived at the scene around 12:30 p.m.

While confirming the search concerned Bills, who was last seen in Alpena in early August, police would not say whether they discovered anything behind the Naylor Road home or the nature of their search.

Police announced a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

News Photo by Julie Riddle Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski, in red, speaks to police officers at an Alpena Township home where police searched for evidence regarding missing teen Brynn Bills on Tuesday.

Police continue their investigation, according to Michigan State Police District 7 spokesman Lt. Derrick Carroll.

According to court records, a resident of the house, Joshua Wirgau, was arraigned Tuesday in 88th District Court on charges of unlawful imprisonment and assault with a dangerous weapon. The alleged victim related to those charges is not Bills, according to court records.

Wirgau is being held without bond.

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Wirgau’s court record indicates multiple prior charges, including for sexual assault and drugs.

News Photo by Julie Riddle A police officer on Tuesday carries markers used to help drones take accurate measurements near an Alpena Township home where police searched for evidence regarding missing Alpena teen Brynn Bills.

Throughout the day Tuesday, a dozen or more plainclothed and uniformed officers searched a partially wooded area behind the Naylor Road home north of Alpena.

Officers arrived beginning around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and continued work throughout the day. Officers from the Michigan State Police crime lab in Grayling, a special investigative section of the State Police 7th District, and the State Police’s Alpena Post worked in a portion of the yard mostly blocked from view of reporters on the scene by police vehicles and surrounding trees.

Other officers photographed and entered the residence, where flowered stickers on one window and toys scattered in the front lawn bore evidence of children living there. No residents were present at the time of the search, according to police.

Police said the search would be methodical and slow to preserve any evidence found on the property.

About 3 p.m., Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski arrived, called in by police. Police would not say why they had requested Muszynski’s presence.

News Photo by Julie Riddle A drone circles property where police searched on Tuesday for evidence regarding missing Alpena teen Brynn Bills.

About 4:45, police flew a Michigan State Police drone, of the sort used for collecting measurements, around the scene.

About 5:30 p.m. police could be seen with a bright orange backboard, further blocking view from the road, near the location where the search for took place.

Shortly before 6 p.m. an ambulance arrived at the Naylor Road home. It pulled away, with a Michigan State Police squad car slowly following, around 7 p.m.

Moments before the ambulance pulled away, troopers decked out in personal protective equipment with cameras strapped around their necks entered the home.

Previous police searches related to Bills’ disappearance include a search of the missing girl’s home. Searches at other residences — without warrant but with the owners’ consent — did not lead to her discovery, according to Carroll.

Last week, Bills’ father, Duane Bills, publicized a $20,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of his daughter.


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