On October 10, 1996, Otha had been hospitalized. Against medical advice and his family’s wishes, Otha left the hospital. He traveled north on I75 towards Ohio. He was stopped by law enforcement. When they saw that Otha did not have a valid driver’s license he was not allowed to continue. His vehicle was left on the north side of I-75. Police gave him a ride to a nearby gas station and told him to call his family. Otha did call his family. They could not make it the very same day but they would come. Otha checked into Best Western Hotel near Florence, Kentucky. The hotel records show that Otha was there. And then he vanished …
Otha was 65 years old when he went missing. It is not difficult to see how he could have been the victim of foul play. His skeletal remains were found eight years later southbound of I-75 near the St. Luke property. How Otha was found is very interesting: since he was wearing blue nylon overalls, the overalls became a “body bag.” Otha did not have his wallet or ID but police found a video card, a hotel swipe key card, car & house keys.
Six metal wires were in the spot where his rib cage would have been. They are most likely from open heart surgery he had a few years back. A mouse’s nest inside his skull had preserved pieces of Otha’s hair and some filtered cigarette butts. DNA taken from the skeleton was compared to a frozen preserved section of artery from his open heart surgery. It confirmed Otha’s identity.
But even before police had the DNA to confirm the victim’s identity, there already was a good idea who this man was. Police compared the information from the anthropological exam with the information on their list of missing persons. The DNA and the hotel swipe key were welcome pieces of confirmation.
A part of the name tag panel on the blue overalls Otha was wearing was cut off. I pinged Jared Bradley from M-Vac Systems and he too thought it might be possible to research that part of the overall with the M-Vac. Jared will get together with Virginia so stay tuned for further information about this. The overalls are a question mark for me as to ownership. Otha had overalls as confirmed by his family but they were not sure whether theses were his and whether he had bought them new.
Interestingly, there was also a false confession in this case but since police never revealed all that they found to the public it was easy to spot the falsehood.
The only place on the Internet where you can find some information about this case is Virginia’s blog. This post here is spot number 2. But that is not nearly enough. I have pushed the notion of the digital footprint with people as a super easy way for everyone to help advance a cold case: just share. Read, retweet, click on share buttons, re-share on Facebook or Google Plus and help enhance a victims’ digital footprint.
Think about it: is there is no information online, and there is no library fiche, how do we know to go and find that one person who might have cut out the newspaper article for a scrapbook? Future generations will undoubtedly be willing to help advance cases of unsolved homicide and the missing. But if they don’t know about those cases, what can they do?
You can help to make sure that these unsolved homicide are not forgotten simply by sharing. You preserve a victim’s story.
Will you help?
P.S.: more pictures will be uploaded later!