Case of woman found dead in West Chester creek gets new attention 40 years later

A 40-year-old unsolved homicide is getting a new look from police, and a local mother hopes her efforts will bring in tips for other cold cases like it.

Nancy Theobald’s body was found in December 1977 in West Chester Twp. after she went missing from her Cincinnati neighborhood.

Theobald was a University of Cincinnati student when she left her part-time job at Arby’s in Clifton to walk home on Nov. 16, 1977. She was never seen alive again.

One month later, on Dec. 27, Theobald’s body was found near a creek in the 6000 block of Beckett Road, according to Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Joe Ventre.

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“Her arms were bound, there was a rope around her neck, and she was partially nude,” Ventre said.

The detective said that at the time of the crime “several people were spoken to … hard.”

But the investigation resulted in no arrests.

Today, Ventre told the Journal-News that in recent weeks he has been working on the case, and that new tests are being done. He declined to elaborate.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information about the Theobald case to call 513-785-1300.

A Hamilton County woman who became an activist after her son was killed in a drive-by shooting is shining a light on unsolved homicides, including Theobald’s, in the hope that new tips will be brought to police.

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“These families still want closure and they need help,” said Hope Dudley, whose son, Chaz, was killed 11 years ago.

His murder remains unsolved, so the 66-year-old woman knows well the pain of loved ones left behind.

Dudley turned her grief into action, founding the group U-Can-Speak-For-Me. The group uses posters, flyers and playing cards depicting victims that are distributed in prisons and jails, along with any public location that might catch the eye of someone with information.

This year, Dudley decided to produce a poster featuring the faces of 24 women from Hamilton and Butler counties whose deaths remain unsolved.

“Our women are getting murdered and you know, I do hear people mention the names of the men, but not as much the women,” Dudley told the Journal-News.

Two of the oldest cases featured on the poster are from Butler County — Nancy Abrams, who was killed in 1985 at King Kwik on Breiel Boulevard in Middletown; and Theobald.

The posters and any way to draw attention to these cold cases are “a good thing,” Ventre said.

Anyone with information about any unsolved homicide can call CrimeStoppers at 513-352-3040.

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