The body of an unidentified man was found Wednesday in a septic tank behind this abandoned trailer along state Route 299 in rural Knox County. The investigation into a missing persons case from Stark County led detectives from Knox County and Stark County sheriffs' offices, along with investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, to the property.
Knox County authorities are trying to determine whether a body found in a septic tank behind an abandoned mobile home is a Canton man missing for 2 1/2 years.
Google Map: See where body was found
“There was clear evidence of foul play,” said Knox County Coroner Dr. Jennifer F. Ogle.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber told the Mount Vernon News and other media at the scene that his deputies were assisting Stark County sheriff’s deputies in the investigation of a missing man, said Samantha Scoles, managing editor for the newspaper.
The name of the missing man was released as Raymond Staats, who hasn’t been seen since Jan. 9, 2009.
Chief Deputy Rick Perez of the Stark County Sheriff’s Department could not be reached for comment early Thursday. Barber also could not be reached for comment. His detectives said only Barber would talk about the body.
Scoles said the sheriff made an announcement at the scene where the body was found on Wednesday.
“We did uncover the remains of a deceased male inside a septic tank, behind these two buildings, this mobile home and this house,” Barber said.
Staats’ friend, Mary Serafini, filed missing persons report with Stark sheriff’s deputies. She told The Repository that Staats was last seen heading to Knox County to pick up a car for a North Canton man who had purchased it over the Internet, and that he never returned.
Barber told media that, “over the past several months, information was developed that he possibly was killed in Knox County and his remains can be found here.”
Deputies, with assistance from investigators with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, went to the mobile home on Newcastle Road on Wednesday.
Barber told media at the scene that local companies Smalls Sand and Gravel and Sims Sanitary septic service pumped out the septic tank behind the mobile home. The body was found, about five feet down.
“The condition of the body, I think it would be safe to say, he’d been there for an extended period of time,” Barber said.
The body was taken to the Licking County Coroner’s Office where an autopsy was scheduled for Friday. Barber told media at the scene that he hoped to have a positive identification of the body at that time.
Although Staats has been missing for more than two and a half years, he is still on the city of Canton’s “Most Wanted” list where he has been labeled “very dangerous and highly volatile.”
Staats was wanted for failing to appear for a hearing in Canton Municipal Court on Jan. 14, 2009 on an assault charge.
Stark County court records show nearly 70 criminal cases stretching to 1986. He has been convicted of theft, receiving stolen property, burglary and breaking and entering. In most cases, the crime involved stolen cars.
Most of Staats’ siblings filed paperwork with the Stark County Probate Court in March 2010, saying they believe he is dead.
One of his brothers has insisted he is alive and living in California, and has since sold Staats’ house, despite it being held by the court system. Raymond Staats’ had put up his house for bond prior to his court appearance.
“There was clear evidence of foul play,” said Knox County Coroner Dr. Jennifer F. Ogle. - Are you sure he didn't jump in willingly Quincy?