"We have had outstanding assistance and are making progress," said Heggelke. "We are hoping to establish the footprint of the house that once stood here and go from there."
Complicating the search, officials said, is the household waste, junk metal and other garbage littering the site.
"The terrain we are working with is very difficult," Ryan said.
Crews removed truck loads of garbage this week before breaking ground Monday. They will then begin the lengthy process of painstakingly screening dirt and scrutinizing it in search of 30-year-old evidence.
"If this is indeed the site of the murder, we are very optimistic that we will find something," said Heggelke.
District Attorney Kristy Sprague said she is confident she will have a case and even a conviction without a body, but hopes the search is successful.
"We will continue with grand jury proceedings with or without a body," she said. "I hope for the family, however, we can get a body back to them for a proper burial."
Minerva officials said they are pleased to see this case approach the possibility of closure after 30 years.
"It has been in the back of everyone's minds since it happened," said Highway Superintendent Bruce McGinn. "Minerva residents are all very curious about the investigation and hope to find some sort of answers."