One of the oldest and most frustrating murder cases in recent District history may finally come to a sad end. In June 1996, Shaquita Bell disappeared two weeks before she was scheduled to testify against her boyfriend, Michael Dickerson, in an assault case. Detectives had spent tons of time and resources attempting to find her body and put away Dickerson.

The case finally started to take serious shape last year and early this year with Dickerson’s arrest on murder charges. You can read the original charging documents here.

The Washington Post reports today that Dickerson has agreed to help law enforcement find Bell’s remains.

The Post writes:

“A District man who admitted in court last week that he killed his former girlfriend in 1996 agreed in a plea bargain to help police try to find her long-missing remains, the U.S. attorney’s office said today.

Michael Dickerson, 39, is nearing the end of a prison sentence imposed in D.C. Superior Court after he assaulted the woman, Shaquita Bell, with a gun in 1996. Bell, then 23, a bakery clerk in a Giant grocery, disappeared in June 1996, two weeks before she was scheduled testify against Dickerson in the assault case. For more than a decade, police searched for evidence that Dickerson had killed her.

Citing new evidence, authorities in January charged him with two counts of murder, in Bell’s death and in a second, unrelated 1996 homicide in the District. In a deal with prosecutors, Dickerson pleaded guilty last Friday to second-degree murder in Bell’s death.”

The Post goes on to state that D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier admits that the search for Bell’s remains has already begun:

“D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier disclosed that aspect of the plea deal during an in-studio interview with News Channel 8 yesterday. Without specifying the location, Lanier said Dickerson has taken police to where he says he disposed of Bell’s remains. But the body has not yet been found. Police have long suspected her body was hidden in Prince George’s County.

‘We’re in the process now’ of searching, Lanier said yesterday. ‘It’s an arduous process. We’ve had folks engaged in the last couple of days, and I’m hoping that we’ll have some final word here in the area where we’re looking within the next day or so.'”

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