Federal, state and local investigators used ground-penetrating radar in their search for a missing Miamisburg woman Tuesday, part of an all-day effort that shocked residents of the normally tranquil Lower Miamisburg Road.
The search for Chelsey Coe, a 26-year-old reported missing last September, involved removing a deck from the property at 551 Lower Miamisburg after authorities barricaded the street.
“It’s pretty shocking to wake up and see this at 8 in the morning,” said 15-year resident Heather McGuire of the search.
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“There was so much activity. I’ve never seen anything like this,” she added. “This is a quiet neighborhood. Everyone gets along. It’s just – you don’t see these things in Miamisburg.”
The areas “that we were searching were all the buildings, the vehicles and any part of the property that appeared suspicious to us,” Miamisburg Police Chief John Sedlak said.
Sedlak said Tuesday afternoon, “We don’t have any specific suspect.”
The chief said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the south suburban Tactical Crime Suppression Unit and a company that works with “underground penetrating radar” were helping Miamisburg police. An Ohio Department of Natural Resources vehicle was witnessed leaving the scene Tuesday afternoon.
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Ground-penetrating radar can be used by police to uncover buried forensic evidence including weapons, drugs or even bodies.
Sky7 video taken Tuesday afternoon showed investigators working behind one of two houses on the property. A small deck behind the house located at the back of the property was removed piece-by-piece, and officers could be seen combing through the soil where the deck was located. An awning was later placed over the area as work continued into the afternoon.
Coe’s last-known address was Lower Miamisburg, but since 2015 she also had lived in Lebanon and Morrow. Coe reportedly was staying with “an older gentleman” in the Miamisburg area prior to her disappearance, officials said.
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Coe’s mother, who lived in Adams County when she filed a missing persons report in September, took action after not hearing from her daughter since June or July. Coe has been described as 5-foot-7, 150 pounds with blue eyes, blonde hair with a “Love” tattoo on her hip and stars tattooed on her lower back.
When the report was filed, Coe was among six missing women all living within a 35-mile radius from cities along Interstate 71/75. Four were from Middletown, one was from Springfield, and all had a history of drug use, police said.
In searching the Lower Miamisburg Road property, authorities told the current occupants “that they could not remain,” Sedlak said. When the search started, residents of the street — which is just west of the Great Miami River — were told not to leave for “several hours,” McGuire said.
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Meanwhile, a handful of vehicles remained on or near the 551 address, just beyond a “road closed to thru traffic” sign about 80 yards west of barricade at Dee Avenue.
Neighbors milled around that intersection much of the morning and afternoon, sharing concerns and seeking to keep updated on the search by using mobile devices.
“It scares the heck out of me,” Morgan Roberts, gesturing to her boy and girl standing nearby, “because it could have been one of them.”
The circumstances that prompted the search, McGuire said, were stirring a variety of emotions.
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“It’s heartbreaking. It’s shocking. I don’t think it’s really sank in to all of us,” she said. “I feel sick to my stomach. I raised a family here.
“I have grandchildren that come here,” McGuire added. “So for something like this, it’s completely heartbreaking. It’s devastating. I feel sorry for the family.”