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Girl found alive amid trash

She had been missing and an Amber Alert was issued when she is discovered in a landfill by an officer.

Associated Press
Published May 23, 2005

LAKE WORTH - An 8-year-old girl was found alive Sunday at a landfill after a teen buried her under heavy rocks in a recycling container, authorities said.

The girl was found at about 10:25 a.m. Sunday by a police officer searching a landfill in Lake Worth, about seven hours after she was reported missing, police Sgt. Dan Boland said.

The girl had minor injuries when she was taken out of the container, which was found in a trash bin at the landfill. She was taken to a hospital in West Palm Beach.

Milagro Cunningham, 17, was charged with attempted murder, sexual battery on a child under 12, and false imprisonment of a victim under 13 years old.

An Amber Alert issued earlier in the day said the girl was thought to be in danger and may have been abducted by two men in a station wagon.

Boland said Cunningham made up the story about the station wagon when he was interviewed by police at the home of the girl's godmother, where both Cunningham and the girl had been staying. It was not immediately known who called authorities to report the girl missing.

On Sunday morning, Sgt. Mike Hall was scouring the landfill as part of his search assignment when he looked in the trash bin and saw a yellow recycling container with a lid on it. When Hall opened the lid, he saw "saw a bunch of rocks, a foot and a hand," Boland said.

Hall then yelled out to see if the child was alive, alerting other officers. That's when a police lieutenant saw the girl's finger move and officers began pulling rocks off her, Boland said.

Detectives then reinterviewed Cunningham, who eventually confessed, Boland said.

But investigators were still trying to figure out when she was taken from the house and how long she was buried.

The girl was staying overnight at her godmother's house when she was abducted, Boland said. Cunningham had lived at the godmother's house for about four months, but he was not related to the girl, Boland said.

In all, about 100 law enforcement members and a bloodhound joined in Sunday's search.

[Last modified May 23, 2005, 05:06:19]

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