YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Detectives with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office are looking for information to see if they can identify a woman found in 1976 in a ditch.
The woman was found Oct. 4, 1976, in a drainage ditch on South Range Road in Smith Township near Sebring by a construction crew.
She had been decapitated and part of her body was decomposed, although newspaper accounts at the time said the decomposition was “uneven,” or that one half of her body was in a more advanced state of decomposition than the other.
Detective Tyrone Hyshaw of the Sheriff’s Office said there was some evidence in the case that was preserved that can be sent out for testing to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Hyshaw said a coroner’s report ruled the woman’s death as undetermined. Although her head was found a few feet away from her torso, he said it is possible that her head could have been separated from her body because of decomposition.
He also said the uneven composition of her body could have been because of the clothes she was wearing at the time. The Vindicator at the time reported that she was found with a pair of green slacks and socks. The newspaper said the upper half of her torso was clothed.
The woman is described as heavy set, and when she was found, there were no teeth but there was a set of dentures. Investigators at the time were hoping they could identify her from the dentures, but they had no luck.
A couple of days after she was found, The Vindicator reported that sheriff’s detectives were looking to see if a missing Austintown woman fit a partial description of the woman who was found, but that never panned out.
Just before she was found, the construction crew that discovered her reported a “putrid” odor in the area where her body was found. At first, the newspaper reported, when they found her body covered by brush they thought it might be some kind of prank, but it turned out not to be.
This story is part of a series of cold cases that WKBN is examining.
Anybody with information can call Hyshaw at 330-397-5631 or 330-480-5009.