Tip leads to search for man missing for 10 years in Butler County

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Searching barn in Ross Twp.

Ross Twp. police, BCI and cadaver dogs find no remains, however.

Ross Twp. police searched for hours in a barn on Hamilton-Cleves Road Tuesday morning for the remains of a man missing for 10 years, according to Chief Burt Roberts.

Acting on a tip from a man who said he saw human remains while cleaning out the barn, searching began about 8 a.m. for William “Billy” DiSilvestro. Cadaver dogs and the the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation were also at the scene.

But the search turned up nothing.

Roberts said a man working at the property called police saying he has seen the skeletal remains sink hole following an incident in which others staying at the house pointed guns at him. But, Roberts said, they learned the call was placed 24 hours after the incident, so it is possible evidence could have been removed.

“The dog did show an interest in some soft ground in the barn. But right now there doesn’t seem to be anything that leads us to think Billy is in that barn,” Roberts said.

The man did say he saw a red shirt and blue jeans with the remains, which is what DiSilvestro was wearing the day he went missing.

“We are continuing to investigate. This investigation is not dead in the water, " Roberts said.

Debbie Estes, DiSilvestro’s mother, has made it her life’s work to find her son. She learned early Tuesday of the activity in Ross Twp..

“I know this boy (who made the call) , he’s had problems in the past, but I think he is telling the truth,” Estes said. But she also said if the remains were moved, she believes some fragments would still have been found.

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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 phone at a friend’s house and had no money, according to his family.

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.

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In 2015, a tip led Butler County Sheriff’s detectives on a massive search, as they dug up a wooded area near New Miami in search of DiSilvestro. But after a five-hour hunt with cadaver dogs, no sign was found at the St. Clair Twp. location pointed out by a confidential informant.

In July, Butler County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Mike Craft said detectives acting on a tip went to a location where someone found bones. Again, the lead turned up nothing.

Ross Twp. Police and BCI were at the scene on Hamilton-Cleves Road and Hine Road digging for the remains of Billy DiSilvestro, who has been missing form Hamilton for 10 years. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Ross Twp. Police and BCI were at the scene on Hamilton-Cleves Road and Hine Road digging for the remains of Billy DiSilvestro, who has been missing form Hamilton for 10 years. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF