BY CHUCK MARTIN
News Staff Reporter
7:19 p.m.BUTLER TOWNSHIP — A body found in a septic tank behind an abandoned mobile home this afternoon may have been there as long as two years.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber said the body may be that of a man reported missing in Stark County about two years ago, but identification will have to wait until after an autopsy Friday.
In a statement to reporters after the remains were taken away today, Barber said a man named Raymond Staats was reported missing in Stark County two years ago. Stark County deputies found information that indicated Staats may have come to Knox County.
The subsequent investigation by Knox County deputies, Barber said, “developed information” that the body would be found at 27700 Newcastle Road. According to the Knox County Auditor’s website, the property is owned by Cami Stidham.
Barber also confirmed a report that the property had been searched by cadaver dogs earlier this year, but found nothing.
Investigators began the job of unearthing the septic tank about 1 p.m. A backhoe was brought to the scene and a truck from Sims On-Site Sanitation was also at the scene.
Little could be seen while the work was going on as the site was located behind the abandoned mobile home and a deputy kept reporters on the other side of Ohio 229.
Barber emphasized that he could not confirm the body is that of Staats and he will probably not have any updates on the case until after the autopsy Friday. The autopsy will be performed in Licking County.
Bill Stokes, who lives across the highway, shook his head at the news a body had been recovered and expressed surprise that someone could have hidden a body there without someone noticing.
“I left here at noon and the deputies were here when I came back at 2:30 p.m.” he said.
According to an article published June 8, 2009, by the Canton Repository, a friend of Raymond Staats said he was last seen Jan. 9, 2009, when he was coming to Mount Vernon to pick up a car that an unidentified Canton man purchased over the Internet. She said Staats had been paid to pick up and deliver a 1967 Mustang.
Mary Serafini told the Repository that Staats called her at 5:34 p.m. and confirmed he had the vehicle. Twenty minutes later, the unidentified man called Serafini to see if she had heard from Staats as he failed to meet up with him as planned.
More details of the investigation will be published as they become available.
4:01 p.m.HOWARD — Knox County Sheriff’s Deputies and investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are at an abandoned trailer on Newcastle Road near Kerr Road this afternoon.
According to News staff on the scene, there are several trucks and a pop-up tent behind the trailer, but no information is available as to what officials are investigating.
Details will be released as they become available.