Zion Foster disappearance: Police detail timeline after months of searching Macomb County landfill

Detroit police said Friday that Zion Foster's body was not found after months of searching a Macomb County landfill.

The decision was made last week to stop looking for the teen's body.

Investigators had been searching for the 17-year-old's remains after her cousin said she died, and he threw her in a dumpster. Officials said they sifted through more than 70,000 tons of trash at the dump, not including what was removed for the search.

The landfill search started at the end of May and ended earlier this month.

Though her body was not found, Detroit police continue to assemble an investigative report as they work to secure charges against Foster's cousin Jaylin Brazier.

Brazier is currently in prison until at least December 2023 for lying to police during the investigation.

"I’m confident that our investigators are going to do every possible thing that they can to ensure what’s needed for prosecution is in that investigative report, and hopefully charges will be brought against that person that we are confident is the suspect," Detroit Police Chief James White said.

Zion Foster

Zion Foster

What happened to Zion Foster?

Foster was last seen by her mom, Ciera Milton, on Jan. 5.

Milton said Foster was picked up by Brazier, to hang out at a home on Detroit's west side. But, she never made it back to her mom, who lives in Eastpointe.  

Brazier, who’s also Milton's ex-husband’s cousin, picked Foster up from their Eastpointe home to hang out, something they did often.

Milton tracked Foster’s location through her phone’s GPS and saw she was near the Seven Mile and Greenfield area on Detroit’s west side where Brazier lived.

Foster texted her later saying she was coming home, but never did.

Milton called Brazier who she claims said, "He told me he hadn’t seen or been in contact with her ‘for three years,’ which is impossible when you were in my driveway and gave me a hug."

Brazier was arrested just a few days after Foster disappeared. He was initially arrested for lying to police during the investigation and ultimately pleaded no contest, as part of a plea deal.

Milton said in February that Brazier told her that Zion was dead and that he threw in a dumpster. He did not say that he killed her.

"He said that my baby just died, and then that he threw her in a dumpster, like she was trash," Milton said.

Brazier admitted he found Foster dead, but he's not charged with her murder. Instead, Braizer admits he threw the dead body in a dumpster.

"I reacted stupidly off of fear and panic like I've never felt before in my life," he said in court during his sentencing.

Milton said she did not believe Brazier.

"It wasn't too long ago that I saw you and even knowing that my baby had been in contact with him, I kept going to his house. I just wanted him to tell me the truth," said Milton.

In March, he was sentenced to between 23 months to 4 years in prison.

Are they searching the right landfill?

Based on information from Brazier, police believe the victim's body was placed in a dumpster before it was taken to Pine Tree Acres Landfill, on 29 Mile Road. 

The process of searching for Foster's remains started with removing 20 feet of what police called ‘unfocused’ material. However, they are inspecting the content as they're looking through the material. 

White said during one of those searches, they found a piece of mail that is from Detroit, leading them to be confident they were searching in the right area.

White said that they are searching a specific 100x100 area that Waste Management and the landfill will help them determine is the most likely area where Foster's remains are.