Butler County missing persons cases continue to haunt police, families

5:00 p.m Friday, April 15, 2016 Crime news

The not knowing is the worst part, Debbie Winkler Estes says.

More than five years after her son, William DiSilvestro went missing from Hamilton she still doesn’t know what happened.

“It really eats at you,” Estes said. “It has a trickle down effect to the whole family. It has affected my health, others in the family, even my pets are affected.”

DiSilvestro disappeared on a cold winter night after spending time at a friend’s house in Rossville. He did not have a cellphone or money. There have been plenty of tips and leads in the years since his disappearance. Butler County Sheriff’s deputies have dived in the canal and dug in several locations, but have have not found “Billy D.”

“I really thought someone would come forward on the anniversary, but it didn’t happen,” Estes said. “I just don’t get if someone knows something but they won’t say.”

She uses posters, social media and has hired a private investigator all in an effort to keep her son’s case from going cold.

“I will never stop until I find him,” Estes said.

DiSilvestro is just one of an estimated 90,000 active missing cases nationwide, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System funded by the National Institute of Justice.

The cases are challenging for law enforcement and can linger for years.

“It does wear at us that we can’t find out what happened to that boy (DiSilvestro),” said Butler County Sheriff’s Office Major Mike Craft, noting the agency will continue to follow all leads.

Last month, Middletown police also expressed frustration in the investigation of the disappearance of Lindsay Bogan, a 30-year-old mother, in September 2015. After six months, her case is now being investigated as a homicide.

Bogan was reported missing by her boyfriend, Eric Sexton, who went to prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to promoting prostitution involving Bogan. At his sentencing, Sexton’s attorney said he does not know Bogan’s whereabouts.

Police have received plenty of tips and even dug for Bogan’s body last month in a Middletown field, but found nothing.

“This is a very frustrating case because she has been missing for so long,” said Maj. Mark Hoffman, of the Middletown Division of Police. “We would like to put this case to bed for the family’s peace of mind and bring the person responsible to justice.”

Hamilton police continue to look for information that will lead them to Cynthia Louise Carmack, who was originally listed as a 16-year-old runaway in August 1988. She was last seen at a shopping center on the city’s west side.

Ronald Tammen is Butler County’s oldest missing person case. The Miami University student walked away from campus on April 19, 1953, leaving behind his possessions. In 2008, sheriff’s detectives in Butler County believed they had found the remains of Tammen, who has become an urban legend in Oxford known as the ghost of Fisher Hall.

DNA from Tammen’s sister in Cleveland was tested with the remains of a badly decomposed body found in June 1953 in Walnut Grove, Ga., near Lafayette. The DNA was not a match and Tammen continues to be a missing person.

Butler County Coroner Lisa Mannix is also trying to bring closure for a family by identifying the skeletal remains of a woman found just over one year ago by children playing in the woods behind their Gregory Creek Lane home in West Chester Twp.

There were no forms of identification with or around the remains.

With the help of forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a biological profile was developed and determined the remains were those of a white woman between the ages of 35 and 60, who stood between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-9 inches tall. Mannix said while a range of height is provided, Murray determined the woman was likely about 5-foot-6 inches tall.

Strands of hair, medium brown with some gray, were found with the skull. And the woman had full upper and lower dentures. She was wearing Faded Glory-brand jeans, size 12, and a medium white, short-sleeved, pullover shirt with red and blue horizontal stripes. Prescription glasses and reading glasses were also found near the woman’s skeletal remains.

“Jane Doe’s” profile along with photos of her belongings, has been entered into NamUs, which is a national resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records. It is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public. Additionally, testing through national data bases gave been done with no match.

Recently, the search for Jane Doe’s identity turned to her dentures.

“We have sent letters to 272 dental practices throughout the U.S. who may have used the unique dental implants that our lady has,” Mannix said. “So far, approximately 45 of those practices have responded and none were able to identify her. A couple of them had possible matches but were able to confirm that the patient was not missing.”

An intern with Murray at College of Mount St. Joseph is following up with the dental practices that have not responded yet, according to Mannix.

Last week the American Dental Association ran an article in its national newsletter asking for help with identification of the woman. The magazine “Dentistry Today” is also going to run the article, Mannix said.

The coroner’s office is also looking into additional testing of the bones.

“We are looking into some additional testing of the bones to determine where this person may have lived recently. Teeth can be analyzed to determine where a person may have lived when young but our lady did not have any teeth, only the unique dental work that we are pursuing,” Mannix said.