The Ross County Sheriff’s Office spent Wednesday searching Paint Creek by air and water.
The department was seeking clues relating to the death of 30-year-old Tameka Lynch, whose body was found in the creek off the 500 block of Falls Road near Bainbridge on Saturday. Lt. Mike Preston said authorities flew over the creek from the dam at the western-most point of the creek in Ross County east to where it dumps into the Scioto River south of Chillicothe.
Deputies in kayaks also took to the creek looking for evidence or any indication there may be another body in the creek. Charlotte Trego, 28, remains missing. Preston said they were hoping to get east of Bainbridge on Wednesday and will pick back up today with the intention of floating down the entirety of the creek.
As the investigation continues to move forward, Lynch’s parents were making arrangements for her funeral.
“She was so kind-hearted. She’d give the shirt off her back if you needed it,” said Chasity Lett, Lynch’s cousin.
Lynch called her mother, Angela Robinson, almost daily, but the last time Robinson heard from her daughter was on May 16.
“We know in our hearts she’d call her mother,” Lett said. “Her mother was her best friend.”
The family didn’t know Lynch’s husband, Jeremi, hadn’t seen her since May 16 until he filed a Chillicothe police report early the evening of May 20. According to the initial report, released on Wednesday, he told police his wife didn’t have any medical conditions and he didn’t think foul play was involved, but wasn’t “ruling it out.”
Police issued an alert to units to look out for Lynch and appear to have contacted at least one person about her whereabouts. Details on any follow-up would be contained in investigative notes, which are not required to be released and were not released due to the ongoing investigation.
The police department has come under fire from some in the community because Lynch was not entered into the law enforcement database as missing. A local petition has been started on Change.org requesting Mayor Jack Everson order the police department to issue an apology to Lynch’s family, the families of other women recently reported missing and the public.
“Until the facts are presented, it’s going to be subject to speculation, and I can’t control that,” Everson said of criticism on social media.
Everson said he was “anguishing over” Lynch’s death and said they are “dedicated to getting to the bottom of this.”
According to Lett, the family also has been questioning the initial response from police. Some have suggested Lynch’s struggle with drug addiction may have influenced the response from police.
Lett said her cousin had been struggling with opiate addiction over the past six months to a year. Lynch had been prescribed Percocet for Lupus, she added, which led to her addiction.
Police, who are working on the investigation with the sheriff’s office, also have been criticized on the handling of three other missing persons cases this month, specifically regarding whether the person was placed into the national missing person’s database. Law enforcement agencies are restricted to certain criteria before being able to enter them, including whether there is a medical or mental health condition or missing under circumstances that indicate they may be in physical danger.
Complete reports were released Wednesday of when 27-year-old Christina L. Lowery was reported missing on May 14 and Bethany Copas, 41, on May 21.
Lowery had been reported missing by a sister who told police she had moved and then cut off contact with family. According to the report, she told police she did not think Lowery was in danger, but wanted a welfare check if she was found. Police reached out to police in Killeen, Texas, who were not able to contact Lowery.
Lowery was not placed in a database as missing and she contacted police on May 22 to tell them she had moved and was not missing or in danger.
Copas was found disoriented with her van on Saturday in a church parking lot. She had been placed in the system as missing. According to the report, her husband told police she was on three types of medication.
The report also indicated police had asked the sheriff’s office to check Ross Lake because she likes to go there, and they also talked with a man on May 22 who who said he’d seen Copas driving the day before.
Trego, who remains missing, was placed into the missing persons database after her mother reported her missing May 18 after not hearing from her daughter for two weeks.
According to the report, Yvonne Boggs told police her daughter is addicted to heroin, suffers from depression and has a history of suicide attempts. Based on the contacts listed on the report, police contacted at least four people about Trego’s whereabouts.
Law enforcement has not connected Trego’s disappearance with Lynch, but they were on the look out for her as they searched Paint Creek on Wednesday.
So far, the investigation into Lynch’s death has been full of rumors and dead-end leads, Lett said. While she didn’t personally know of Lynch being friends with anyone in Bainbridge, Lett said she’s heard there is a house where her cousin and others would go.
Although Lett said the family has been told her cousin was dead before ending up in the creek, the sheriff’s office has yet to confirm that information.
The Ross County Coroner issued a release Wednesday saying no details from the autopsy will be released until the autopsy is completed. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office is performing the autopsy, and it could take up to 10 weeks to be complete due to toxicology tests.
“Once the investigation has been completed and all final reports are available, the cause and manner of death will be available,” the release read.
On Wednesday, the Ross County Sheriff’s Office created a Facebook page as another way people could pass tips along. While a news release indicated Sheriff George Lavender had been contemplating starting a page, he was prompted to move forward as a result of Lynch’s death.
Although started in the midst of the Lynch investigation, the community is encouraged to use it to pass along concerns or tips regarding any criminal activity in Ross County. The page will be reviewed and monitored daily by a member of the sheriff’s command staff. People also can continue to report information by calling 740-773-1185.
“I think a lot of people know more than they’re saying,” Lett said. “(Her death) is hard on me, but it’s killing her parents.”
Among those grieving are Lynch’s three young children, ages 10, 5 and 4.
MISSING PERSON DATABASE
The National Crime Information Center says that a person can be entered into the system as missing if they:
• have a proven physical or mental disability.
• are missing under circumstances indicating that they may be in physical danger.
• are missing after a catastrophe.
• are missing under circumstances indicating their disappearance may not have been voluntary.
• are younger than 21 and do not meet the above criteria.
• are 21 and older and do not meet any of the above criteria but for whom there is a reasonable concern for their safety.
Source: FBI website
HAVE YOU SEEN HER
Charlotte Trego was last reported heard from on May 3. She is described as a white female, 5-foot-4, 160 pounds, dark hair, and blue eyes. She has a tattoo of “JAMES” on her chest and a Playboy bunny on her upper arm. Anyone who has any information about Trego can call Chillicothe police at 740-773-1191 or anonymously call Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers at 740-773-TIPS.