In June 2015 SEARCH, an international team of American, British and Russian forensic experts, conducted the third search for the remains of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich Romanov and his secretary, Brian Johnson, near Perm, Russia.The team was lead and organized by Captain Peter Sarandinaki, SEARCH Foundation, Inc. Members of the team were:USA--NecroSearch, International Clark Davenport- geophysics; Brook Schaub, Investigation, computer mapping; Steven Jackson – historian. United Kingdom - Searchdog-UK Michael Swindells, who also served as manager of the search. Russia- Obretenye Foundation-Perm, Dr. Sergey Nikitin- forensic anthropologist, Dimitry Zenyuk – archeology.
Initially we intended to continue the search where we left off in 2014, but new information arose that lead us to a new work site, very close to where we planned to work. The new site was in a ravine close to the chapel on Red Hill. However, in October 2014 an older woman came forward and told our Russian team that we were searching in the wrong place. She said that in 1994, her 12-year-old son and his friends were “playing war” in a ravine on top of Red Hill. They came upon a cave, or mine, entrance and went in about 30 meters, but got scared as the shaft went deeper and their flashlights did not work well.
However, they claimed to have stumbled upon two skeletons, and one of the boys took a skull. But a red-haired policeman caught the boys with the skull and took it. We found this red-haired policeman, now retired, and he confirmed that he had confiscated the skull from the boys, even named them. The policeman did not remember what he did with the skull. We also located the woman and her son, now in his 30s. The information was solid enough that we determined to postpone our plan to pick up where we left off in 2014 and pursue this avenue.
We attempted to get the “boy” to show us the area but he was uncooperative (and a convicted felon). We were able to convince his mother come to the site on top of Red Hill and show us the approximate area described by her son. My search manager, Michael Swindells, (Searchdogs-UK) questioned her at length.
Following up on the limited information, I hired an excavator and moved 7500 tons of earth, dug down 25 feet, dug side trenches, trying to expose the tunnel. We spent approximately nine days digging. We were not successful at finding an entrance to a cave or mine; however, this does not mean it doesn’t exist and more investigation is warranted. I asked the Russian FBI to search for the other boy, who was with the group, and continue trying to get to the bottom of this story.
After exhausting the possibilities for this story until more information is received, we went back to continue our search in the valley under Red Hill. Picking up where we left off in 2014, we again employed an excavator to create search trenches, which were then explored using ground-penetrating radar, a magnetometer, and the search dog. After an exacting search, we were unable to locate the remains in this area. Having said that, we are excited about the potential of next year’s search due to several new discoveries and additional research you will be able to learn about in the followingreport. This will include draining the swamp area to the east of the 2014-15 search area. I’ve just received news from our Russian team members that Ural Gas Service will drainthe swamp this coming winter. The area will then be dry when we return to search for the remains of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and Brian Johnson in August 2016.
This is not an easy task and akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. However, we believe based on historical documents and informed sources that we are searching the correct “haystack,” and given the expertise of the search team, we will ultimately be successful. I hope that you will join us by giving your support to help us close a very sad, and important, chapter in Russian and world history.
With very best regards,
Captain Peter A. Sarandinaki
SEARCH Foundation, Inc.