HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It has been more than three weeks since Brittany Burfield's alleged killer was charged with murder, but to this day, the Houston woman's body has not been found, leaving her family to search daily for her remains.
"Today we're going through some lots we haven't cleared yet," said Brittany's mother Tricia Valentine as she put on long rubber gloves, walking stick wrapped in her arm.
Valentine is embarking on another six-to-12-hour day, searching for her 37-year-old daughter who hasn't been seen since June 25.
Brittany's sister Brandy and other family friends are helping search Houston's Third Ward, in the vicinity of where Brittany's belongings were found and where her alleged killer, Alex Haggerty, was living in a tent when he was arrested and later charged with her murder.
"We have pings that we follow where we know he was," said Tricia of the cell phone records that show the use of Brittany's phone in the days after her disappearance.
Whether it's been researching phone records or digging through piles of trash, family and friends have spent long hours, seven days a week, looking for any trace of Brittany Burfield in the six-and-a-half weeks since her disappearance.
"It's kind of like a living nightmare every day that you sort of get used to, which is really weird," said Brittany's sister Brandy Burfield, who has been searching for her ever since booking an emergency flight to Houston from California more than a month ago.
While searching along Live Oak Street Thursday, mother and daughter came across a buried garbage bag in a wooded area several yards from the road. They began shoveling the dirt and opened the bag to find bones. Once they found the skull, they determined the bones belonged to a dog.
"Oh it has canine teeth," said Tricia.
Brittany's mother says she's come across quite a few dead dogs during her weeks of searching.
"Your heart beats a little faster until you find out it's a dog and not a daughter," said Tricia.
In their search they are driven by the hope for justice for Brittany.
"Finding her is the best chance of keeping him locked up forever," said Tricia.
Tricia says she is heartened by the kindness of the people of the Third Ward, who often approach her with hugs and prayers when they see her out searching for Brittany.
"I want to tell them, 'thank you,'" said Tricia. "'Thank you for helping us. Thank you for your kindness.' I don't have enough good words to say for them. They hate the evil that this man has brought into their community."