A tip led Butler County Sheriff’s detectives on a massive search Wednesday, digging up a wooded area near New Miami in search of William DiSilvestro, who vanished more than four years ago.
But after a five-hour hunt with cadaver dogs, no sign of the missing Hamilton man was found at the St. Clair Twp. location pointed out by a confidential informant, according to Butler County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Craft.
Debbie Estes, DiSilvestro’s mother, who has made it her life’s work to find her son, said she was told Thursday about the new lead. It is tough to handle that there was not resolution, she said.
“I just want to find him,” Estes said. “But I know that is just one phase. I have seen that with Dave Markham (father of Katelyn Markham of Fairfield whose slaying remains unsolved). I have to know what happened. And it doesn’t matter how bad, I want to see it, everything.”
Estes has made it her life’s mission, when not spending time with her seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, to hang fliers, post photos and videos on social media, plaster her son’s photo on benches and search on her own for her son, who would now be 32 years old.
“You know I still expect to see him come through the door, but the longer this goes on, I know that probably is not going to happen,” Estes said. “If he were out there, I just don’t think he would do this to his family. Not contact us.”
It was bitter cold during the early morning hours of Feb. 7, 2011, when “Billy D” left a Rossville neighborhood house after a party and was never seen again. DiSilvestro was 28 when he was last seen in the 200 block of Ross Avenue. He left his cellphone at a friend’s house and had no money, according to his family.
Sheriff’s detectives have followed multiple tips in their search for DiSilvestro. In July 2011, a rescue team spent two days searching murky canal water on Joe Nuxhall Boulevard. An inmate passed a tip that DiSilvestro had been killed, put in a barrel and thrown in the water. But the search only turned up hubcaps and discarded furniture.
Also in 2011, a retired Chicago police officer called detectives after seeing DiSilvestro’s face on a missing ad in a trade magazine. The man thought he saw DiSilvestro at a gas station between the Florida state line and Tampa, but he could not pinpoint the location.
Before her son’s disappearance, Estes, 56 was an avid gardener, a competitive pool player and a bartender in Hamilton and New Miami. Now she says she has trouble concentrating on anything other than finding her son and helping the families of other missing people.
Estes contributed to the book “Letters to our Missing,” which features poems and letters from families across the country with missing lived ones. On Saturday, about 50 people gathered at Columbia Bowling Lanes in Hamilton and each released four balloons in Billy D’s memory.
Last week when remains were found in the the Great Miami River in Hamilton County, Estes held her breath, as she does anytime remains are found in the region. She soon learned the remains were not those of her son.
“I always think maybe this time is my time,” Estes said. “It’s really hard.”
Anyone with information about DiSilvestro’s whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 513-785-1300.