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Phoenix police to extend landfill search for Christine Mustafa

This image taken from video provided by the Phoenix Police Department shows a search at a Phoenix-area landfill for missing 34-year-old Christine Mustafa on on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Phoenix Police Department via AP)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department announced Monday that it is extending its search of a local landfill for a missing 34-year-old woman by three weeks.

According to Sgt. Alan Pfohl, the department originally planned to search the landfill for the body of Christine Mustafa for nine weeks.

The original projection was based on the size of the area that detectives identified as the most probable area where Mustafa’s body could be located, he added.

Despite making “great progress,” Pfohl said the nine-week period will come to a close on Friday and investigators will not be able to search the entire identified area in that span of time.

“For this reason, we will be extending the search until we have searched the entire area,” Pfohl said, adding that the department anticipates that will take an additional three weeks.

The search for Mustafa’s remains began back in October, more than five months after she was originally reported missing.

Related: Landfill search for missing Phoenix woman’s body passes halfway mark

Mustafa’s ex-boyfriend, Robert John Interval, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case. He has pleaded not guilty and is expected to go on trial by Feb. 22.

Family members told police that Mustafa feared Interval and planned to leave him.

Police checking on Mustafa at her family’s request found her car, purse and cellphone at the couple’s home near Deer Valley and Cave Creek roads.

The Arizona Republic reported that court documents said police investigators found pillowcases and bedsheets containing a small amount of “possible blood-stained material” during a May 15 search.

The documents also said a chemical sprayed on the walls as part of the investigation had a reaction that indicated the presence of blood or other biological material.

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