Volunteer speaks on methodical search for missing teen Zion Foster in landfill

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 18:30:00-04

LENOX TWP (WXYZ)  — Monday begins the third week that a special group of volunteers will be searching specific portions of a landfill in northern Macomb County for the remains of 17-year-old Zion Foster.

RELATED: 'They’re just dedicated.' Volunteers battle extreme heat in landfill search for Zion Foster

Detroit Police Homicide Commander Michael McGinnis is one of the law enforcement officers who volunteered for the assignment.

"We want people doing this job that want to do this job because we want to do it right," said McGinnis, suited up in the head-to-toe hazmat gear that has to be disposed of daily because of the dangerous debris and materials they're walking on and sifting through at the Pine Acres landfill in Lenox Township.

On January 4, Zion left her home in Eastpointe.

"We are confident that Mr. Brazier is responsible for the death of Zion,” said Cmdr. McGinnis.

Officials say the information they have is that Zion’s body was placed in a dumpster and then possibly transferred to the Pine Tree Acres Landfill.

A representative from Waste Management said the landfill has isolated the suspected area where Zion may be located.

“I want to know what happened to my baby,” said Milton.

On January 4, Zion Foster left her home in Eastpointe with her 21-year-old cousin, Jaylin Brazier, who lives in Detroit and never returned.

Brazier is currently serving time for lying to Eastpointe police during the early part of their investigation. He is also suspected in the teen's death.

It's believed Zion's body was placed in a dumpster in Detroit, which was then transferred to the landfill in Lenox Township.

Officials at the landfill have identified the area where the truck would have emptied its contents and that is the area being searched.

"We've reached the layer that we're going to call the focus area and we're taking that material out and we're putting it on a deck. And searchers like myself, wearing PPE equipment like this, are going through with rakes, raking through the material in the hopes of discovering Zion," McGinnis said, adding that there isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't think about the case.

"I'm just very thankful that I have the opportunity to do this," he said.

Zion's mother, Ciera Milton, said finding her daughter would not bring her closure because there will never be an end to her grief.

"This is for truth," she said. "There are many people that I know, officers, that are out there now that have put themselves into my shoes as best as they can. And I'm grateful for that empathy."

But Milton maintains that Eastpointe Police did not take her daughter's disappearance seriously, saying they casually discounted her as a runaway for too long, losing precious time in finding potential evidence including Zion's remains.

"You got the trash, the amount," Milton said as she cried. "What are they going to find? Really?"