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New push to resolve disappearances, deaths of Ohio women

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio --In the wake of national media spotlight following the deaths and disappearances of six women near Chillicothe, Ohio, local law enforcement announced Monday a new initiative to resolve the cases and combat drug trafficking and prostitution in the area.

Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers also announced a reward of $5,000 in the cases of each of two women who have vanished within the past year and remain missing. Four others who vanished have been found dead, spurring fears that a serial killer could be targeting the southern Ohio town.

Officials are searching for any possible connections between the deaths and disappearances. Authorities have said all six women ran in the same circles and hung out at the same places, where drug use and prostitution are common, reported the Columbus Dispatch. Earlier this month, the FBI joined a task force of local and state investigators.

"We're going to clean this town up and we're going to get justice for these ladies," Chillicothe police chief Keith Washburn said at a Monday community rally.

Washburn said the new law enforcement push, called the "reinvestment initiative," would increase patrols near the city's Second Street, an area where drug use and prostitution are reportedly commonplace. He said investigators would implement a "zero tolerance" policy for drug traffickers and search for leads in the cases of the missing and murdered women.

Investigators are working to follow up on 30-40 tips per day, said Ross County Sheriff George Lavender. Lavender said investigators are compiling the information to look for "common denominators" between the women.

"Drugs, prostitution, it's time for it to go," Lavender said. "I don't want my family scared to be in the community, and I don't want your family to be scared to be in the community."

A series of city leaders spoke at Monday's rally before marching down Second Street, vowing to "take back" the community.

Victim's family members have told multiple local news outlets they believe the deaths and disappearances could be the work of a serial killer, though police have not confirmed that. Most recently, 26-year-old missing mother Tiffany Sayre was discovered dead in a creek June 20. Her cause of death hasn't been determined.

Timberly Claytor, 38, was found shot to death on May 29, reported the Columbus Dispatch. Tameka Lynch, 30, was discovered dead of an overdose on a creek sandbar in May 2014, and authorities have reportedly called her death suspicious. Shasta Himelrick, 20, was found dead in January in a river about week after she had gone missing.

The paper reports a coroner ruled her death a suicide by drowning, but her family reportedly disputes that. Himelrick had announced to her family last Christmas that she was pregnant, Crimesider reported.

Two other women remain missing: Charlotte Trego, 28, vanished in May of 2014, and 38-year-old Wanda Lemons was last seen in November of 2014.

Last week, The Chillicothe and Ross County Missing Persons Task Force released a new flier featuring the missing and murdered women, hoping to solicit new leads, reported the Chillicothe Gazette.

Tipsters can send information on the cases to findme@rosssheriff.com or call the tipline at 740-774-FIND(3463.)

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