-- — St. Leon Marshal Bill Wendt said he had a bad feeling when Russell Barrett’s wife and brother-in-law called to report him missing at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22.
The 48-year-old had no known medical issues and it was out of character for him to disappear.
“You can make exceptions” to the rule that police must wait 24 hours to investigate such a report, so Wendt did.
The officer went to Barrett’s State Road 46 residence and gathered preliminary information.
“They weren’t sure what happened,” he recalled. The man was following his wife home from her Cincinnati workplace Saturday, July 21. The last time she remembered seeing his red Chevy pickup in the rearview mirror was between 10:30-11 p.m. on New Haven Road, Harrison, Ohio.
The wife called friends and relatives first to learn of his whereabouts, then Dearborn County dispatchers, who called Wendt.
The marshal phoned area hospitals and law enforcement agencies. “I even checked with the casinos to eliminate possibilities.”
He and the wife also drove the route home from Harrison, but did not locate the man.
Wendt then contacted Barrett’s cellphone provider to try to determine his location.
Around 2 a.m. Sunday an A T and T employee reported no outgoing calls had been made since the disappearance, but the phone’s location could be triangulated. Wendt called Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Richard Bower to check an area on S.R. 46 for a possible crash.
“Around 3:50 a.m. Deputy Adam Ziegler said they’d found the vehicle ... It was so far down the ravine you couldn’t hardly see anything.” The truck was off the road’s north side between Chappelow Ridge Road and Higher Ground campground.
“It was very well hidden. The spotlight at night” zeroed in on what the marshal and family couldn’t see in the daytime.
“At that time they had not found Mr. Barrett. I went out there and joined them. Within a few minutes after my arrival at 4 a.m., 30 yards west of the vehicle, we located his body. He had been ejected from the vehicle and appeared deceased” in a hilly, wooded area.
Evidence showed the pickup was traveling west on S.R. 46. “You could see the tire marks where the vehicle left the roadway,” hit the guardrail, then trees, and appeared to roll several times.
An autopsy will be performed, the Dearborn County coroner told Wendt.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com. To comment on stories, visit batesvilleheraldtribune.com.