It's possible those items are from another drive or volume, if that's the case you need to trash them.
Go to /Applications /Utilities/Terminal and launch it.
At the prompt, copy and paste this command
sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash
You will be asked to enter your admin password. It will be invisible.
Enter it and press Return.
Log out and back in or restart.
Let us know.
Thanks to both of the respondents. I have used Onyx to delete the trash from all connected volumes. The trashes are fully fully emptying--no doubt about it. But, after it is emptied, and looks empty (ie. there is nothing in the trashcan and if I open it, there is nothing there at all even with "show everything" toggled. However, as soon as I throw one single thing in the trash, and look (and see only 1 thing), and say empty it, it tells me it is deleting 10 things.
I very much fear that this has something to do with fonts. I think I mucked something up when I installed FontExplorer and I do think that the system keeps "recovering" font files or something like that. I have no evidence for this, other than a sinking feeling.
I could reinstall Snow Leopard and try all over again but even with Time Machine I am afraid that at some point when I am restoring stuff, I will restore the stupid files that keep showing up in the trash. Kinda like cats with nine lives. Yes, the cat came back.
I tried the terminal thing but it was a non starter. Would not let me copy and when I wrote it out, it kept saying it was illegal. Finally got it to work but then it said rm was an illegal option. Sigh. Think I should go back to ignoring this. Every few months or so I get determined to fix it and then I get tired of it.
Are you using Secure Empty Trash rather than just emptying the trash routinely?
In my system, every mounted volume seems to contribute a minimum of two items that get deleted by Secure Empty Trash, even if there is just a single item in the dock Trash window beforehand. Making hidden files visible does not show any additional items in the various Trash folders before the secure delete.
I currently have a total of 16 partitions mounted. If I first Secure Empty the Trash, then put a single item into the Trash from my Desktop and then Secure Empty the Trash again, I will see a progress window saying that 34 items are being deleted. Reducing the number of mounted volumes reduces the count by two for each volume that is unmounted.
O, I could kiss you! You are a genius! Yes, that was it!!!! I had my Finder preferences set to Empty Trash Securely. When I unchecked this preference, the Trash empties only what I can "see" in it. I must have been miscounting since I have 4 volumes in total and thus I guess it was throwing in 2 x 4 = 8 items plus what I put in the trash before emptying.
So, nothing much hinged on this except my sanity because it BUGGED me that I could not figure it out. Now that I know, I am so darn happy! Thank you so much. You would think that I might have stumbled on this at some time in my attempts to solve the mystery but you did it! Break out the sounds of My Fair Lady...