Police looking into possible landfill search related to Megan Shultz case

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COLUMBIA - Police are talking with the city's Solid Waste Utility about whether a search of the landfill is feasible in a murder investigation.

On Monday, prosecutors charged Keith Comfort with the murder of Megan Shultz, his wife, in 2006. Court documents said he admitted to strangling her, after which he put her body in a dumpster at their apartment complex. He had previously said she left their apartment on her own and never came back.

The Columbia Police Department said Wednesday investigators are working with Solid Waste Utility officials to see if the area of the landfill where trash was dumped in 2006 can be narrowed down. They're also looking into procedures the landfill uses to determine if a search would be possible.

According to a press release, the landfill on Peabody Road covers more than 100 acres, with 91 actively being used to dump trash.

Ben Trachtenberg, a professor at MU School of Law who specializes in criminal law and procedure, said prosecutors may not need to find Shultz's body in order to successfully prosecute Comfort, as long as there are "slight circumstances corroborating the facts."

"In a case like this, where you don't have the body, the question would be 'What other evidence, if any, does the government have that shows it was a murder?'" he said.

He added if the case goes to a jury, Comfort's confession could be very persuasive.

"Someone's confession is one of the absolute best pieces of evidence," Trachtenberg said. "While we know that sometimes people confess falsely, juries give tremendous weight to confessions. And it's very difficult for a defendant to get out of something he's already confessed to doing."

Currently, Comfort is still in custody at Walworth County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin with a $1 million cash only bond.