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  #1  
Old 05-07-2007, 12:25 AM
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Default Mary Ellen Walters 68,and Ada Wasson 80

Ohio Retirees Missing for Two Weeks

Sunday, May 06, 2007

LEBANON, Ohio —
Mary Ellen Walters and Ada Wasson set out from their retirement community for a routine day of outlet-store shopping, not telling anyone they planned a long trip or even asking anyone to feed Walters' beloved dog.

There hasn't been a trace of them in more than two weeks.

Authorities, volunteers and relatives have driven up and down roads covering thousands of square miles of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and flown over the region. They've looked for credit card activity, studied store videotapes, checked under bridges and passed out thousands of fliers.

Warren County Sheriff's Maj. John Newsom said it is one of the broadest investigations ever in this area about midway between Dayton and Cincinnati.

He said there has been no indication of foul play.

"They're out there somewhere. It may be the next square mile we search," said Brad Nixon, Walters' son-in-law. "The optimism is reduced ... but how do you stop?"

Walter, 68, and Wasson, 80, are believed to have left the closely knit Otterbein Retirement Living Community here on April 19, headed to a J.C. Penney outlet store in either Columbus or Carrollton, Ky., with Wasson driving her 2000 Chevrolet Impala. They were reported missing three days later, when Walters' daughter came to pick her up for an evening out and found worried neighbors.

"That's all we think about," said Dorothy Pfeiffer, Walters' next-door neighbor. "We're kind of like zombies now."

Walters is a mother of three whose husband was in Florida with his own ailing mother, and Wasson is a widow with no children.

They had set out for Carrollton's outlet mall, some 80 miles to the southwest, earlier that week but got lost. They had lunch at a restaurant in Kentucky, then came back home, laughing about it, said Walters' daughter, Cindy Nixon, and neighbors.

The two women preferred driving scenic highways rather than Interstate 71. That complicates the search.

Authorities know Wasson filled her car's gas tank the night of April 18, and they left some time the next day.

There, the trail goes cold.

There has been no activity on their credit or bank cards, police say. They didn't take any luggage or give any other signs of planning for a long trip. Neighbors said Walters normally would ask them to watch her dog, a Schnauzer mix named Suzie, if she planned to be away for long.

Police and family members spent hours studying parking lot and store videotapes at the mall in Carrollton without success.

"We've looked at this from every angle we can think of," said Newsom. Police have been meeting every morning to discuss the investigation and have consulted with FBI experts.

Wasson at times became confused, while Walters was limited by knee problems, neighbors said.

It's the first such missing person case for Otterbein, where people enjoy living on their own, said chief executive Bob Benson.

Cindy Nixon remains optimistic the women will be found safe. She said family members hope to help others by compiling a database of contacts and things they've learned in the search — such as making sure neighbors know how to contact children.

Others are less hopeful.

"At first the phone lines buzzed, 'Have you heard anything? Have you heard anything?'" said the Rev. Ronald Payne, who succeeded Walters as pastor of the Milford Center United Methodist Church in northwest Ohio when she retired three years ago. "Now people are afraid the worst has happened."

Newsom said police are still making daily efforts, but soon will have to begin scaling back the search.

"We always want to be able to fix things for people," he said Friday. "We haven't been able to fix this."

www.foxnews.com/story/0,2...72,00.html
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:26 AM
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Flying time and fuel donated for search

BY JEFF MCKINNEY | JMCKINNEY@ENQUIRER.COM

Brad Nixon still has high hopes that his mother-in-law and her friend will be found.

Nixon spent Saturday covering about 250 square miles from Lebanon to the Washington Court House area by air with a pilot who donated his time to the search mission.

Nixon is the son-in-law of Mary Ellen Waters, 68. She and Ada Wasson, 80, both of Warren County, have been missing since April 19.

The women have not been sighted even though police, the civil air patrol, church members and volunteers have searched extensively on land and from the air.

"We're not going to give up until we bring them home," said Nixon, speaking from Co-Op Aircraft Services in Blue Ash.

Wasson and Walters are believed to have departed the Otterbein Retirement Living Community April 19 for a J.C. Penney outlet in Columbus or Carrollton, Ky. They were reported missing three days later.

Nixon said he was humbled and grateful for the free air search Saturday. He estimated that paying for continued air searches would cost about $800 a day.

"The family is in no position to cover that expense," he said.

Bill Sikute, a member of the Blue Ash Airport Advisory Committee, said Co-Op Aircraft donated the airplane and fuel for the mission. The pilot, Tom Besl, also donated his time.

"We want to find them just as much as the family does," Sikute said.

Nixon said he wanted to expand the search Saturday to the south along the Ohio River and toward Carrollton, but could not because of poor visibility. But Nixon could be back up in the air as soon as today.

Nixon said he appreciates the search efforts of police and other civil agencies, but he remains frustrated that Waters and Wasson haven't been found.

"We can't have enough resources until we get closure on this," Nixon said.

Nixon said more pilots at the Blue Ash Airport have volunteered to use their aircraft to join the search.

news.enquirer.com/apps/pb.../705060432
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:16 AM
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Search Intensifies for Two Elderly Ohio Women Missing Since April 19

Monday, May 07, 2007

LEBANON, Ohio — They're out there somewhere.

That's what authorities hope as they expand their search for Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80, two elderly women who vanished nearly three weeks ago after leaving their close-knit retirement community for a day of outlet-store shopping.

Authorities, volunteers and relatives have driven up and down roads covering thousands of square miles of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and flown over the region. They've looked for credit card activity, studied store videotapes, checked under bridges and passed out thousands of fliers.

Nothing has turned up to indicate there whereabouts or whether they may have been victims of foul play.

"It may be the next square mile we search," said Brad Nixon, Walters' son-in-law. "The optimism is reduced ... but how do you stop?"

Warren County Sheriff's Maj. John Newsom calls it one of the broadest investigations ever in this area about midway between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Walter and Wasson are believed to have left Otterbein Retirement Living Community in Lebanon on April 19, headed to a J.C. Penney outlet store in either Columbus or Carrollton, Ky., with Wasson driving her 2000 Chevrolet Impala, Newsom said. They were reported missing three days later, when Walters' daughter came to pick her up for an evening out and found worried neighbors.

"That's all we think about," said Dorothy Pfeiffer, Walters' next-door neighbor. "We're kind of like zombies now."

Walters is a mother of three whose husband was in Florida visiting his own ailing mother; Wasson is a widow with no children.

They had set out for Carrollton's outlet mall, some 80 miles to the southwest, earlier that week but got lost. They had lunch at a restaurant in Kentucky, then came back to Otterbein, laughing about it, said Walters' daughter, Cindy Nixon, and neighbors.

The two women preferred driving scenic highways rather than Interstate 71. That complicates the search.

Authorities know Wasson filled her car's gas tank the night of April 18, and they left some time the next day.

There, the trail goes cold.

There has been no activity on their credit or bank cards, police say. They didn't take any luggage or give any other signs of planning for a long trip. Neighbors said Walters normally would ask them to watch her dog, a Schnauzer mix named Suzie, if she planned to be away for long.

Police and family members spent hours studying parking lot and store videotapes at the mall in Carrollton without success.

"We've looked at this from every angle we can think of," said Newsom. Police have been meeting every morning to discuss the investigation and have consulted with FBI experts.

Wasson at times became confused, while Walters was limited by knee problems, neighbors said.

It's the first such missing person case for Otterbein, where people enjoy living on their own, said chief executive Bob Benson.

Cindy Nixon remains optimistic the women will be found safe. She said family members hope to help others by compiling a database of contacts and things they've learned in the search — such as making sure neighbors know how to contact children.

Others are less hopeful.

"At first the phone lines buzzed, 'Have you heard anything? Have you heard anything?'" said the Rev. Ronald Payne, who succeeded Walters as pastor of the Milford Center United Methodist Church in northwest Ohio when she retired three years ago. "Now people are afraid the worst has happened."

Newsom said police are still making daily efforts, but soon will have to begin scaling back the search.

"We always want to be able to fix things for people," he said Friday. "We haven't been able to fix this."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,270372,00.html
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Old 05-09-2007, 12:39 AM
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Missing Women Get National Attention

May 7, 2007


LEBANON, Ohio -- More than two weeks after their disappearance, two missing Warren County women are drawing national attention.

News outlets such as MSNBC broadcast stories Monday about Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80, who left their retirement home April 19 to go on a shopping trip.

Family members have searched thousands of square miles between Columbus and Carrollton, Ky., where the two women liked to shop at outlet malls.

The scope of their search has expanded to cover more ground, as tips are reported and leads tracked down.

A waitress in Vevay, Ind., said she saw the pair several days after their families last heard from them, and Walters’ son-in-law said he plans to ask someone at every business in the target area.

“It’s been 17 days now and the family is still determined to bring them home,” said Brad Nixon.

Nixon said the family has asked utility workers to look alongside roadways for the women or the Chevy Impala they drove, and they’ve also used the Internet to search for the pair.

“It’s really reassuring that the community has come out, volunteered or provided ideas (because) we can use all the ideas we can get right now,” Nixon said.

www.wlwt.com/news/1327297...n&psp=news
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Old 05-12-2007, 01:30 PM
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Default Saturday, May 12, 2007

No new leads in cases of three missing women

BY JANICE MORSE


A Butler County woman vanished almost a month ago. So did a pair of elderly Warren County women.

The cases have little in common - except their families and friends are worried, investigators are frustrated but determined, and the women's descriptions sit in computer databases waiting for breakthroughs.

"They've just fallen off the face of the earth, without a focal point of a crime scene or a criminal incident," Butler County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said, referring to all three women.

The women are listed in the Ohio Law Enforcement Automated Data System computer as well as the National Crime Information Center's missing-persons database. If anything connected to the women is found, police running computer checks would discover the reports, officials said.

SEEKING A 'TIDBIT'

Dwyer's office is investigating the April 14 disappearance of Kiva Gazaway, 38, of Liberty Township, probably a victim of foul play.

Investigators have made "significant progress" in the case, Dwyer said. "We've eliminated a lot of situations and a lot of potential locations."

Authorities found her car in Fairfield and identified her boyfriend, Harvey "Shawn" Johnson, as a "person of interest." He is being held in Florida on unrelated charges.

But they haven't said what they think happened to Gazaway.

"We've not found her - and if foul play has happened, we've not found the body," Dwyer said.

He thinks some people still have information that might be helpful. Even just a tidbit could be enough to unlock the puzzle, Dwyer said.

Longer-term missing-persons cases require interviews and re-interviews. Investigators "spiral out" from what is known and seek more information, then circle back to gather more pieces from earlier sources, Dwyer said.

Even though the case has been well publicized, Dwyer said some people who knew Gazaway and her boyfriend were unaware of the events surrounding both.

Some people "don't really look at the news," Dwyer said. Others were out of town when the case first was featured in the news.

'FRUSTRATING' SEARCH

In neighboring Warren County, sheriff's Maj. John Newsom has tried getting national attention on the case of Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80.

The women were last seen April 19 as they left Otterbein Retirement Living Community in Turtlecreek Township, where they lived. They had intended to go shopping.

No trace of them has been found.

Newsom persuaded FoxNews.com and America's Most Wanted to feature the cases on their Internet sites, hoping to generate more information.

"There still are leads that are trickling in. ... We keep following up," he said Friday.

Grasping for anything useful, Newsom finds himself scanning the highway as he goes about his personal business, looking for a glimpse of the missing car.

"You don't realize how many 2000 silver Impalas are out there until you start looking for them. It's a common, nondescript car," he said.

"It's both frustrating and disheartening. ... We'd really like to work this out for the families' sake."

This case is unusual because there is "no clear-cut starting point."

"Who knows if they made it to their first destination and got lost, or never made it there, or went somewhere else?" Newsom said. "If you've got suspicious circumstances, you have a starting point. We don't even have that."

Anyone with information on the Gazaway case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040 or the Butler County Sheriff's Office at 513-785-1000.

Anyone with information in the Otterbein women's case is asked to call the Warren County Sheriff's Office, 513-695-1280, or county dispatch at 513-925-2525.

news.enquirer.com/apps/pb.../705120382
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Old 05-13-2007, 12:46 AM
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Exclamation Mystery Of Missing West Chester Woman Appears To Be Solved

Mystery Of Missing West Chester Woman Appears To Be Solved


The mystery looks to be solved in the case of Kiva Gazaway, the West Chester woman who had been missing for nearly a month.

A body, believed to Gazaway, was found in a ravine in a Blue Ash industrial park.



The 38-year-old woman's brother Ateela got the call from investigators in the middle of the night and says he broke down when they called him.

"The reason we're able to say we believe it's her [is] because the boyfriend took us to the location," said Chief Anthony Dwyer with the Butler County Sheriff's Office. "That's what led us there, so we're pretty confident we have her."

Not long after Gazaway's boyfriend, Harvey Johnson, reported her missing, investigators put him on their radar. Suspicions arose when Johnson took off to Florida. That's where federal investigators found him and locked him up on a parole violation.

"Right now, I'm at a loss," Kiva's sister, Ateela Gazaway, told 9News. "Right now, I just, don't know. My mind is blank. I'm in a daze right now."
On Friday, Johnson was moved back up to Butler County, where investigators finally cracked him. "It is some of the best police work I've seen," Chief Deputy Dwyer said

The answer is not one anyone can prepare for. "He hurt my heart. I just want to know why," says Ateela. Kiva's daughter Jazmin Gazaway adds, "My mom was an amazing person, amazing. Mother's Day is coming up tomorrow, and I think like, gosh, I can't get my mom anything. I have nobody to go run to if I need help." While investigators won't come outright and say Johnson confessed, they have made it clear he's the one who led them to the body in Blue Ash. At this point, investigators still need to wait for the Hamilton County Coroner's Office to confirm it is her and how she died.

Becky Freemal's Noon Report:


It appears the body of missing Liberty Township woman, Kiva Gazaway has been found.

Gazaway has been missing since April 14th when she disappeared from her home on Lakota Meadows Drive.

The Butler County Sheriff's Office says an autopsy must be done to confirm whether or not the body found in Blue Ash Friday night is Kiva Gazaway.

But detectives say the fact that her boyfriend, Harvey Johnson, led investigators out there makes them fairly certain it's her.

Johnson reported her missing, telling police he last saw her when she walked out after a fight days before.

He since took off and Federal Marshals found him in Florida putting him behind bars for a parole violation.

It was only Friday, that Johnson was brought back to the Butler County Jail where investigators questioned him into the night about Gazaway's disappearance.

He finally cracked. While investigators haven't release details of their conversation, they tell us it was information Johnson gave that led them to the Blue Ash industrial park where Gazaway's body was discovered.
Johnson faces a potential list of charges. He has yet to be officially charged by the prosecutor.

http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story...4-78bde8ef502c
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:30 PM
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Missing Women Haven't Been Seen For 3 Months

July 22, 2007


LEBANON, Ohio -- It has been three months this week since Ada Wasson and Mary Ellen Walters vanished from a Lebanon retirement community without a trace.

Volunteers have searched religiously since then. But police said they're no closer to finding them today than they were in April, NewsChannel5 partner ONN reported.

Wasson and Walters drove away from Otterbein Retirement Community in a silver 2000 Chevy Impala. To date, no car has been found, no credit card or ATM trail.

"We've searched probably 9,000 square miles, maybe more of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky and we've not one credible lead," said Bob Benson, Pres, CEO Otterbein Retirement Community.

The two women lived independently in Otterbein's patio home community. Officials said they didn't just wander off.

"They're faithful ladies. Faithful in a number of ways. Faithful to their families, to their friends, to the community," said Rev. Jim Ludwick, Otterbein Lebanon United Methodist Church.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office said it's still responding to tips and checking out sightings. This weekend, the family organized a search for a rural area in Turtlecreek Township. At Otterbein, friends are hoping for the best, but believe their best hope is that something can be learned from all of this.

"We're beginning to find other ways to help people stay independent. And we look in the near future to be making some announcements relative to that. And some things that people can do here, as well as in their homes, to maintain their independence and be even more safe than they are today," said Ludwick.

But for now, friends and family grieve a loss without knowing why or how things changed.

"Many things in life are incomplete. Usually, they aren't as tragic as this," said Ludwick.

www.newsnet5.com/news/137...etail.html
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:18 PM
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Where did they go?

Two women disappeared while shopping in April


BY LORI KURTZMAN | LKURTZMAN@ENQUIRER.COM

TURTLECREEK TWP. - People don't just vanish.

Of course not.

There's an explanation for what happened to Mary Ellen Walters, an answer to the question that's been haunting her family, a reason she never came home from that shopping trip all those months ago.

Part of it, they know.

The realization sunk in slowly, weeks after she went missing.

Mary Ellen's husband, Joe Walters, felt it before anyone said it aloud: His wife - the woman he met on a blind date, whom he married in 1960, who would have turned 69 last month - is probably dead.

No one has seen her since April 19. No one has heard from her 80-year-old travel companion, Ada Wasson, either.

No one has used their credit cards or taken money from their bank accounts or tried to sell Ada's car.

No one's even seen the car.

Mary Ellen and Ada are, quite simply, gone.

So this is the question.

Where are they?

Asking isn't enough.

After five months, Scott Walters, one of Mary Ellen's three children, still drives out every Sunday after church and at least one afternoon during the week to look for his mother. Up one road, down another.

He parks his green van and hops out to check the ditches that might conceal Ada's silver 2000 Chevy Impala.

"We still just haven't found anything at this point," Scott Walters says.

He's put more than 7,000 miles on the van. His siblings have ratcheted up their odometers, too. They've driven countless rural roads and trudged through poison ivy and brush and marsh, hoping to discover the silver car in a deep ravine or catch a glimpse of it submerged in a pond.

Theirs is a tedious, blind search, stretching from Columbus to Carrollton, Ky., and into southeastern Indiana.

Dozens of volunteers and law-enforcement officials have helped, both on the road and from the sky. With every search comes the same result.

No Ada.

No Mary Ellen.

Scott Walters recounts the past five months from the patio of his parents' home. He's a lumbering guy, an engineer, a Forest Park father of two. He holds a map and points out the area he'll be searching that weekend.

He says he's tried to find a way to describe what this all feels like, why he keeps looking.

Imagine someone you love dies, he says, and you have that sadness, that heavy grief, that loss. Then, you have a funeral and, while that doesn't ease the pain, at least it marks something. An ending. Some closure. A chance to move on.

Now, imagine not getting that ending. Imagine the grief just lingers. Imagine an unthinkable question hangs over your head.

"You're trapped," he says.

WHERE'D THEY GO?

Before all of this happened, before the missing-persons reports, before their pictures were posted on the window at the Warren County Sheriff's Office, Mary Ellen was a boisterous 68-year-old, a retired schoolteacher and minister with a husband, three adult children, five grandchildren and a dog named Susie.

Ada was a childless widow who loved to travel and had retired from the accounting department at Columbus's Riverside Methodist Hospital.

The two women lived in the red-brick homes of Warren County's Otterbein Retirement Living Community. They sang in the community choir and were part of the same women's group. Life had worn them down a bit - Mary Ellen had diabetes and two bum knees and Ada suffered an illness that left her increasingly confused - but both remained active, open to adventure, ready for a road trip.

Which is how April 19 came about.

No one's too sure where the women went. Neither had a cell phone. Ada left behind a list of places she wanted to visit. Joe Walters was out of town. The best guess police and family have is that when Ada and Mary Ellen climbed into the Impala, a handicap tag hanging from its rearview mirror, they were headed to a J.C. Penney outlet store in either Columbus or Carrollton.

The two cities are more than 160 miles apart. Both are more than an hour's drive from the retirement community. Either could have posed a problem: Just days earlier, the pair had gotten lost trying to reach the outlet mall in Carrollton.

They ended up stopping for lunch at the Montgomery Inn Boat House, relatives say, laughing about their foiled shopping attempt.

NOTHING COMES CLOSE

Scott Walters tried to think like an engineer. He tried to think like his mother, but that hurt too much. In the end, he and his siblings and his father and all the volunteers have just picked apart the massive search area, one road at a time. They've found plenty of vehicles - one submerged beneath a boat ramp - but nothing even close to the car they're looking for.

"You can't fathom it," Joe Walters says.

In the beginning, this was a rescue operation. Find Ada and Mary Ellen. Get them help, get them home. But weeks passed. Then months. Spring gave way to summer. Trees grew green and leafy, and thermometers hit the 100-degree mark.

Too much time had passed.

Rescue gave way to recovery.

"It's hard to say that," Scott Walters says. "But the reality is kind of where we're at."

Across from Scott Walters, Joe Walters sits and fumbles with a pipe. He doesn't say much.

The son, who admits he's grown increasingly protective of his father, does most of the talking. He says they're doing "as good as you can expect" and calls this a "lost summer." Their expressions are hidden behind sunglasses.

The men chuckle at all the places they've been, joke that Mary Ellen is getting a kick out of making them run around, but grow quiet when asked whether they are afraid that one day they might just find that silver Impala.

Scott Walters pauses. He says no. He wants to find that car. He wants to find his mother.

He looks at his dad.

"I think," he says, "I want to find her for him."

news.enquirer.com/apps/pb.../709220367
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Old 09-25-2007, 12:02 PM
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How sad. I keep hoping they are going to find these ladies and put them to rest. I believe, as the family seems to, that they are probably not alive any longer. I just wish they could find some answers.
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:13 AM
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Unhappy Found!

Remains found of two missing Ohio women


CAMPBELLSBURG, Ky. (AP) -- Skeletal remains found by a hunter in a north-central Kentucky field have been identified as those of two women missing from a retirement home since April, according to authorities.
A hunter discovered their car and the remains on Sunday about 40 miles northeast of Louisville, said Major John Newsom of the Warren County sheriff's office. The remains were identified late Sunday as those of Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80,

The women had been missing from the Otterbein Retirement Living Community near Lebanon, Ohio since April 19. They had told friends they were going to a J.C. Penney outlet store in either Carrollton, Ky., or Columbus, Ohio.

Autopsies were to be performed Monday. Foul play does not appear to be a factor, authorities said.

"It has been a difficult time for the families and everyone who knew and cared about Mary Ellen and Ada," Otterbein said in a statement on its Web site. "All who live or work in this community share the loss of these two neighbors and our prayers are with the families in these difficult times."

Their car was found off Interstate 71 about eight miles south of Carrollton, in a location not visible from the road or air, Otterbein said.
Wasson at times became confused, while Walters, a retired United Methodist minister, was limited physically by knee problems, neighbors said.

Shopping was a favorite activity of the two, and they preferred driving scenic highways rather than Interstate 71. That complicated the search, because there are multiple ways to get to Carrollton, including via Indiana, or to Columbus, 90 miles to the north of the retirement home.

Authorities and volunteers searched thousands of square miles in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana by land and air. Investigators have studied store videotapes, checked under bridges and passed out thousands of fliers. Police consulted with FBI experts and sent alerts across the nation.

Authorities know Wasson filled her car with gas the night of April 18, and they left some time the next day. But in the weeks after the disappearance, there was no activity on the women's credit or bank cards, police said.

The women also didn't bring luggage and Walters, who normally asked neighbors to watch her Schnauzer mix if she was to be away long, left the dog alone.


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Old 10-17-2007, 12:05 AM
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'Bless her heart, she was trying'

80-year-old struggled to get help for herself, stranded friend

BY JANICE MORSE | JMORSE@ENQUIRER.COM


TURTLECREEK TWP. – Ada Wasson and Mary Ellen Walters died stranded and alone, unaware that their disappearance compelled many people to search for them by land, water and air.

A hunter stumbled upon the elderly women’s vehicle along a secluded Kentucky wagon trail Sunday, nearly six months after they had vanished

No foul play is suspected, authorities say. They think the women took a wrong turn, got lost and ended up with their car stuck in a rut.

Now the women’s survivors urge others to heed lessons from their tragic deaths.

“We can all learn something from this – and that is to cherish our loved ones...don’t hesitate to stop in and check on your neighbors and loved ones,” said Brad Nixon of Anderson Township, Walters’ son-in-law. He fought back tears at a news conference Monday at Otterbein Retirement Living Communities, where both women lived.

“Don’t forget to carry a cell phone,” Nixon said, “and, lastly, don’t forget to tell someone where you’re going.”

Neither Wasson nor Walters took a cell phone when they left April 19 in Walters’ silver 2000 Chevrolet Impala.

They were heading to shop, friends and family knew, but their destination was uncertain: Columbus, Ohio, or Carrollton, Ky.

Those two spots are about 150 miles apart, so police had to scatter resources rather than focusing on one specific area – a problem, especially when police are still searching for people presumed alive, said Warren County Sheriff’s Maj. John Newsom.

“We were hoping against hope in the first seven to 10 days we could find them alive,” Newsom said.

As time passed, police shifted to “recovery mode,” he said, because chances for the women’s survival had dwindled.

The women’s relatives on Monday were relieved that “there is an end to the mystery” – even if the ending wasn’t the one they had hoped for, Nixon said.

He concedes that the family finds some solace that there was no sign of violence against the women.

There is no evidence that the women ever reached an outlet mall in Carrollton, Ky., which is about eight miles east from the site where a Henry County, Ky., hunter found Wasson’s car, authorities said.

Just before their disappearance, the women had gotten lost while trying to find that same outlet mall, relatives have said.

Walters and Wasson apparently took a wrong turn and ended up near Campbellsburg – close to Interstate 71, exit 34, but far enough that their vehicle was out of view from the highway, obscured by springtime greenery, Newsom said.

Newsom had predicted that the chances of finding the women would improve in autumn, as falling leaves reveal previously hidden areas, and when hunters and hikers traipse through out-of-the-way terrain.

The car was found in a farm field that had lain fallow for several years, at the base of a steep embankment and resting in a dry creek bed.

The car was undamaged, but was stuck in a wagon trail rut – and the hill would have been too steep for the car to get out, Newsom said.

“They were finished at that point,” Newsom said. “This was just the worst of all possible circumstances, where they ended up.”

The women’s largely skeletal remains were found outside the car.

Their positions led investigators to believe that Wasson was trying to walk toward the interstate, possibly to get help for Walters, who was in poorer health even though she was the younger of the two.

Remains believed to be Walters’ were found next to the vehicle; those believed to be Wasson’s were found about 600 feet from the car, “in a clearing that is a direct line from the vehicle to the interstate,” said Warren County Sheriff Tom Ariss.

From the car’s position, help was within earshot and within sight. “You can hear it (interstate traffic noise) from the car; you can see it,” Newsom said. But no one could see the car or the women from the road.

That notion bothered all the investigators, Newsom said, to think that an 80-year-old woman struggled to survive and didn’t make it.

“It would have been difficult for her, at her age, to make it there. She was trying. Bless her heart, she was trying,” he said.

Official verification of the women’s identities is pending.

Wasson was a widow with no children.

Walters was a retired United Methodist minister and a mother of three; many churches alerted their congregations and enlisted volunteers to search for her, noted Bob Benson, president and CEO of Otterbein.

The Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office is responsible for making legal identifications of the women – a process that likely will take awhile because of the remains’ conditions, Newsom said.

But he said: “It’s unlikely that these two bodies are anybody else.”

Even if the investigation isn’t over yet, Newsom knows the sad truth in his heart: the remains belong to Wasson and Walters.

Services are being planned.

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Old 11-08-2007, 08:18 PM
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Damn. You know I was expecting this but had held out hope that they would be found some where with memory problems or something. How sad that they were that close to help.
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