Day 2 reveals little about FBI dig at Branch Ave. mill building

"We'll take it from here"

(Photo: Justin White/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After the Target 12 Investigators broke the news of an FBI investigation digging Tuesday for an alleged human body involved in a cold case, the excavating and secrecy continued Wednesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wouldn’t tell Target 12 much about what or who they were looking for. Their Evidence Response Team was part of the crew, they said, behind a chain-link fence at an old mill complex at 725 Branch Avenue, immediately off Rt. 146, in Providence. Police and detectives blocked the site from view as much as they could, and kept people back from the perimeter.

Sources have told Target 12 that the search for the body is tied to suspects linked to organized crime.

A backhoe took a breather off to the side Wednesday morning. A larger claw excavator was at work with serious digging.

Over the course of an hour, a flatbed lumber truck pulled up to the scene. Investigators came out wearing protective booties — like engineers or medical personnel use for clean room conditions. “We’ll take it from here,” a man said, keeping the truck’s driver outside the tape line. The investigators removed plywood from the truck and hauled it into the concealed area.

The process is being directed out of the Boston office of the FBI — which has plenty of experience with the workings of organized crime, past and present, in New England.

The mill complex on Branch Avenue has an intriguing history. Back in August 2015, the feds raided it, and uncovered an illegal marijuana growing operation. Complex owner William Ricci has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in that case; he’s due to face a judge in May to make the change of his plea official.

But, there’s no indication at this point Ricci’s case is connected at all to the FBI dig. Investigators also wouldn’t speculate on how long they’d be taking at the site.

Watchful neighbors said the crews had started up at eight in the morning Wednesday. Some are captivated by the activity, including eyewitness Corey Reckert: “It just seems like a dark history in Providence’s past, that might be coming back … It could be from a previous time. We’ll find out.”

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