Investigators dig up porch in connection to Cullman woman's 2009 - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Investigators dig up porch in connection to Cullman woman's 2009 disappearance

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Tabitha Franklin went missing in August 2009. Source: Cullman County Sheriff's Office Tabitha Franklin went missing in August 2009. Source: Cullman County Sheriff's Office
Crews are digging up a front porch at a residence at 1140 County Road 1136, looking for evidence connected to the 2009 disappearance of Tabitha Franklin. Image courtesy of CullmanSense.com. Crews are digging up a front porch at a residence at 1140 County Road 1136, looking for evidence connected to the 2009 disappearance of Tabitha Franklin. Image courtesy of CullmanSense.com.
Investigators carried off a cement slab they took from the porch on Friday. Work will resume on Saturday morning. Source: Vanessa Araiza/WBRC Investigators carried off a cement slab they took from the porch on Friday. Work will resume on Saturday morning. Source: Vanessa Araiza/WBRC
Authorities put up crime tape around the area after finishing their digging for the day. Source: Vanessa Araiza/WBRC Authorities put up crime tape around the area after finishing their digging for the day. Source: Vanessa Araiza/WBRC
(L-R) Keith Floyd and Christina Moore. Source: Cullman County Sheriff's Office (L-R) Keith Floyd and Christina Moore. Source: Cullman County Sheriff's Office
CULLMAN COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

Cullman County Sheriff's investigators spent hours digging up a porch at West Point home on Friday, looking for clues in the disappearance of a woman who's been missing for more than four years.

Tabitha Franklin was last seen in August 2009. She was 28-years-old at the time and the mother of three children, who are now all in their teens. Franklin was supposed to be traveling from Cullman County to Hueytown in Jefferson County when she disappeared.

Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey says they have followed numerous leads and have questioned many people over the years to try to solve the case. He said Friday this is still considered a "missing persons" case, but they do believe at some point Franklin met up with foul play.

The sheriff says the lead that brought them to the front porch is the result of a three-month-long investigation. Investigators developed new information that gave them probable cause to obtain a search warrant for a property located at 1140 County Road 1136. Authorities served the search warrant on Thursday and started digging up the porch on Friday.

"I think the evidence leads us to believe that we may be able to do some good here," Sheriff Rainey said.

Franklin's family members say she lived at the house at one point and was last seen there. Relatives came to the home on Friday, carrying signs of support and saying they're hopeful the search will turn up evidence for the case.

"I really appreciate what they're doing. We, the family, appreciate everything that they're doing," Stacey White, Franklin's sister-in-law, said.

Crews used a combination of jackhammers, sledgehammers and saws to break up the porch's thick concrete, which also has rebar in it. They started at 8 a.m. Friday and made it about a quarter of the way through the porch by noon. The sheriff said it could take another day or two to fully dig up the porch.

"It's real tedious job and the concretes real thick here so it's a little more difficult than we first anticipated," Rainey said.

Authorities transported a slab of concrete from the porch away from the site on Friday afternoon. Crews wrapped up their digging around 4:30 p.m., but the sheriff says they'll be back at 8 a.m. Saturday to continue the effort.

"This has been four and a half years of very hard struggles. The family has gone through all kinds of stuff. So for them to say that they're doing this now is a big relief," White said.

White said until Franklin's body is found she will not give up.

"People told me...'Why do you keep going? This is affecting your health, this is affecting your life. Why do you keep on?' Well, you know, if it was your mother, if it was your daughter, if it was your sister would you want somebody to just stop," said White.

At this time, the front porch is the only area investigators are interested in searching, Sheriff Rainey added. He said is hopeful they will find something linking to Franklin's disappearance.

A deputy will be on the property overnight to make the scene is secure for tomorrow's search. Rainey says once the concrete is removed crews will examine the soil underneath to see if it was disturbed.

The people who live at the home are not considered suspects at this time, but the sheriff's office arrested two of the residents on drug charges Thursday.

Keith Talmadge Floyd, 49, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Christina Johnson Moore, 36, was arrested on the same charges. They each posted a $6,000 bond and are out of jail.

The sheriff says Floyd and Moore are not officially tied to the investigation into Franklin's disappearance.

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