11 unsolved cases Ohio’s new cold case unit will investigate

Chelsea Johnson

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has created a new cold case unit to investigate unsolved crimes, and it is looking at several area cases of note.

The new unit based at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation reaches out to local law enforcement agencies to initiate a fresh look at unsolved cases. The unit offers new forensic analysis and investigative resources, according to Steve Irwin, BCI spokesman.

ExploreNew Ohio cold case unit looking into unsolved homicide of Fairfield 15-year-old

Here’s a look at cases the unit said it will be investigating (some descriptions come from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office):

Chelsea Johnson, Fairfield

Johnson was a student at Fairfield Options Academy when she was killed in 2012. George D. Davis II, of Cincinnati, was sent to prison for drug trafficking, importuning, and having weapons under disability for attempting to exchange heroin for sex with Johnson, but was never charged in connection with her slaying. He was released from prison in 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Davis was arrested in May in Hamilton County on a felony charge of promoting prostitution and is awaiting trial.

Authorities have said a grand jury did not return an indictment against a suspect in the case, despite a year-long investigation in which the Butler County Sheriff’s Office took a fresh look.

Fairfield Detective Doug Day said the department investigates all leads. Irwin said the Cold Case Unit is investigating the case at the request of Fairfield police.

In a June interview, Vicky Fible, Johnson’s mother, expressed frustration about the lack of progress in her daughter’s case and said she hasn’t communicated with Fairfield police in years.

Fible said she believes the case was botched from the beginning because detectives placed blame on her. After further investigation, including her passing lie detector tests, “I cleared my name,” she said.

Anita Taylor, Springfield

Taylor’s husband found her beaten and apparently raped at their home on Oct. 29, 1966. She was alive, and her husband ran for help from friends who had just dropped him off from work.

Police found the couple’s toddler with injured in his crib, and Taylor died on the way to the hospital.

Her son survived and yearns for closure.

“As I look back, I can only assume that I was used as a ‘bargaining chip’ by the murderer,” Aaron Taylor wrote on a website dedicated to solving his mother’s murder. “That he had begun to beat me, and Mom eventually gave in and said, ‘Do whatever you want to me, just leave my son alone.’”

Forensic evidence from the scene, which still exists, excluded Larry Taylor as his wife’s killer. Larry Taylor died in a motorcycle crash in 1978.

Anita Taylor’s page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Herman Brown, Cincinnati

After Cincinnati police received a call saying Brown had not been seen in a long time, officers were dispatched to the 46-year-old’s apartment at 2572 Sarvis Court. Brown was found beaten to death inside in February 2003.

Herman Brown’s page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Raymond M. Wells III, Sharonville

Wells, 18, was found dead in the middle of a street in a retirement neighborhood that he had no known connection to, about 10 miles from his home in Bond Hill in June 1999. Evidence showed that, in addition to other injuries, Raymond had been dragged by a car.

Raymond Wells' page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Carol Zastudil, Perry Twp.

On Dec. 21, 1983, her husband, Richard Zastudil, left for work about 7:15 a.m. and her kids got on the school bus an hour later. The family usually took care to lock the doors because a couple of months earlier, Zastudil had discovered an intruder inside their home. He fled before Richard could get his gun loaded.

But on this day, a family member had forgotten to close the garage door. When Carol’s son got sick at school, her husband picked him up and took his step-son home — where they found Carol dead in her daughter’s room.

The 36-year-old’s throat had been cut, her purse and a couple of drawers had been upended, and about $500 in cash was missing.

Carol Zastudil’s page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Kori Glossett, Middlepoint

Glossett, a lifelong Van Wert resident, had recently turned 25 years old when he was last seen in 2016.

Kori Glossett’s page from the Missing Persons Database

Willie McCloud, Columbus

When McCloud’s friends hadn’t seen her for a few days, they grew worried and went to her apartment at 4996 Chatterton Road. They found the 56-year-old dead inside in May 2005. She had been strangled.

Willie McCloud' page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Jeffrey Risner, Fostoria

Risner’s found the 50-year-old dead in the garage behind his home in Mach 2006. He had a deep cut in his neck and and suffered further injuries to his head and one arm.

Jeffrey Risner’s page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Samantha Jo Stewart, Columbiana County

On Aug. 4, 2016, a property owner was mowing grass between a wooded area and Alderlick Road in Wayne Township when he came across the body of 26-year-old Samantha Jo Stewart.

The resident of Weirton, West Virginia, had died from blunt force trauma to the head. Stewart had been reported missing four days earlier by her estranged husband and had no known ties to Columbiana County.

Cheryl Thompson, Loveland

Thompson, 19, was a University of Cincinnati freshman on spring break when she disappeared in the spring of 1978. Her 16-year-old brother reported Cheryl in March 1978.

Two weeks later, on April 8, a state game warden looking to check the licenses of fishermen happened across Thompson’s body on an embankment off the 260 block of East Kemper Road. She was partially clothed and had been beaten and strangled.

Cheryl Thompson' page from the Unsolved Homicides Database

Joanne Hebert, Union County

On July 22, 1981, Herbert, 14, headed for the nearby Tag Market, at 9110 Dublin Road. Her parents were both at their jobs.

She was seen at the market talking on the payphone, and her bicycle was still out front when the store closed at 8 p.m. But then it disappeared, as had Herbert.

A squirrel hunter in woods 3 miles from the Heberts' home and a mile south of Mitchell DeWitt Road (near where Franklin, Delaware and Union counties meet) stumbled across a partially decomposed body that fall. It turned out to be Herbert, half-dressed, likely sexually assaulted and beaten to death.

Union County Sheriff’s Office information page on Joanne Hebert

In Other News