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Police fear serial killer at large as six women disappear in one town

Wanda Lemons, one of six women who disappeared from a small town in Ohio
Wanda Lemons, one of six women who disappeared from a small town in Ohio

The FBI are investigating the possibility that a serial killer is responsible for the disappearance of six women in a small town in Ohio in a little over one year.

Chillicote, Ohio has a population of just 21,000 but in the last year six women in their 20s and 30s have gone missing, and four of their bodies have been discovered in rivers or streams near the town.

The women, apart from their ages, had a number of things in common. Many of them had drug problems and it seems that a number of them also worked as prostitutes to feed their habit. Some of the women, in fact, knew each other.

“I don’t want to come out and say ‘yes, we have a serial killer,’ but it’s a small community that we live in … and the number of females who have come up missing, and then the bodies that we’ve found, that’s quite a bit for our community,” Staff Lt. Mike Preston of the Ross County Sheriff’s Department told The Washington Post.

“The community is starting to get concerned,” he said. “Everyone just wants answers.”

The fact that the women had such similarities, and that the crime scenes also shared some traits, has led to the investigation being escalated from local police all the way up to the FBI, who are now profiling the potential serial killer.

The first victim was mother of two Charlotte Trego, who was last seen on May 3 last year. On the same day another woman, Tameka Lynch, a friend of Trego, also disappeared.

Three weeks later her body was found by a kayaker in a stream near the town and the coroner's report said Lynch died of a drug overdose.

Six months later, in November last year, Wanda Lemons, a mother of five vanished.

Two months later 20-year-old Shasta Himelrick was found in a river near the town and in May this year Tiffany Sayre disappeared after going to a hotel to meet somebody.

Sayre's body was found in a drainage pipe last Saturday, wrapped in a bed sheet with duct tape.

In the intervening period another woman, Timberly Clayton, was found dead after being shot in the head three times and dumped in a ditch.

Some of the women's deaths, originally thought to be suicides, are now being re-examined by an expanded team of investigators from a number of law enforcement agencies.