ASHLAND - Family members and neighbors of two area missing women said they had more questions than answers as they left a press conference Tuesday, where authorities announced they had found the remains of two unidentified people in a house on Covert Court near downtown.
During the press conference, family members questioned police Chief Dave Marcelli, claiming his department and officers from Huron County did not take seriously the reports of missing women until the bodies were found. Marcelli did not answer their questions, and prior to the press conference said the event was for media only. The chief asked the family to leave, but family members and neighbors refused.
A woman who identified herself as Jeana Stanley, the sister of 43-year-old Stacey Stanley of Greenwich, said her sister has been missing since Thursday. Stacey’s car was found on Ninth Street, according to Jeana.
Stanley reportedly was last seen at the BP Station on East Main and Union streets when she had a flat tire.
Neighbors of Elizabeth Griffith, who has been missing since last month, believe she might also be one of the victims.
Jeana Stanley said officials in Huron and Ashland counties did not seem to take her sister's disappearance seriously. She said she suspected they may have jumped to false conclusions about her because of past drug problems.
"We will talk to media because we want them to hear our side of the story," she said.
Stanley said police took the family to the Ashland Municipal building Tuesday morning and told them they had found two bodies in the Covert Court house.
That’s what led the Stanley family to believe one of the bodies was that of their loved one. But as the hours wore on Tuesday afternoon and evening, the family had no official confirmation.
“You see this stuff on the news, but you really have no idea until you’re on this side of the tape,” Stacey's cousin, Veronica Stanley said.
Veronica Stanley said the family began searching in the area of the Covert Court home and another vacant house next door on their own before police began investigating at the scene.
The family and friends say they believe their persistence in knocking on the door of the home rattled the man police eventually took into custody, and allowed an abducted woman to call 911 using the man’s cellphone.
In Madison Township, Lisa Dewiel went to a half-burned house at 1027 Park Avenue East on Tuesday afternoon hoping for answers after learning the suspect in police custody in the Ashland case had led law enforcement to the second site, where he admitted he murdered a third woman, according to Richland County Prosecutor Bambi Couch Page. Dewiel lives around the corner from the Park Avenue address.
Dewiel's stepson’s mother is Stacey Stanley. She had attended the earlier press conference in Ashland and was upset that no information was released regarding the women’s identities, leaving the families hanging. Dewiel said Ashland law enforcement said they cannot confirm one of the deceased is Stacey until the coroner confirms it.
Ironically, Dewiel said that Monday night she posted missing posters and fliers at the laundromat near the vacant house where remains of two bodies were found.
"We went around posting fliers everywhere through Ashland. We started out on Ninth Street because that’s where her car was found," she said.
“Something kept drawing me to those two houses,” she said.
Edna Boals, a friend of Elizabeth Griffith, said she had had negative interactions with the man who lived in the Covert Court house, as the man was always yelling at Boals to get away from his property when she was walking in the area to do laundry at the nearby laundromat.
Boals said it was unlike Griffith to disappear for any length of time. She was last seen Aug. 16 in the area of Walmart and Aldi on U.S. 250 in Ashland.
Another woman at the scene, who did not wish to be identified, said she had met the man who lived in the house where police were investigating, and said the man stalked her and tried to date her, eventually attempting to give her pills at his house about two weeks ago. Uncomfortable, she said she declined the pills and left.
"That could have been me in that house," the woman said Tuesday after hearing two bodies had been found.
Reporter Lou Whitmire contributed to this story.