Police Say Skeletal Remains Found Are Those Of Missing Ohio Retirees

Monday, October 15th 2007, 8:26 am
By: News On 6

CAMPBELLSBURG, Ky. (AP) _ Skeletal remains found by a hunter in a north-central Kentucky field have been identified as those of two women missing from a retirement home since April, according to authorities.

A hunter discovered their car and the remains on Sunday about 40 miles northeast of Louisville, said Major John Newsom of the Warren County sheriff's office. The remains were identified late Sunday as those of Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80,

The women had been missing from the Otterbein Retirement Living Community near Lebanon, Ohio since April 19. They had told friends they were going to a J.C. Penney outlet store in either Carrollton, Ky., or Columbus, Ohio.

Autopsies were to be performed Monday. Foul play does not appear to be a factor, authorities said.

``It has been a difficult time for the families and everyone who knew and cared about Mary Ellen and Ada,'' Otterbein said in a statement on its Web site. ``All who live or work in this community share the loss of these two neighbors and our prayers are with the families in these difficult times.''

Their car was found off Interstate 71 about eight miles south of Carrollton, in a location not visible from the road or air, Otterbein said.

Wasson at times became confused, while Walters, a retired United Methodist minister, was limited physically by knee problems, neighbors said.

Shopping was a favorite activity of the two, and they preferred driving scenic highways rather than Interstate 71. That complicated the search, because there are multiple ways to get to Carrollton, including via Indiana, or to Columbus, 90 miles to the north of the retirement home.

Authorities and volunteers searched thousands of square miles in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana by land and air. Investigators have studied store videotapes, checked under bridges and passed out thousands of fliers. Police consulted with FBI experts and sent alerts across the nation.

Authorities know Wasson filled her car with gas the night of April 18, and they left some time the next day. But in the weeks after the disappearance, there was no activity on the women's credit or bank cards, police said.

The women also didn't bring luggage and Walters, who normally asked neighbors to watch her Schnauzer mix if she was to be away long, left the dog alone.