Dozens of people joined in Portsmouth Tuesday demanding a change. They started the day with a peaceful protest outside the Scioto County Courthouse and later moved to Tracy Park for a vigil and celebration honoring the birthday of missing woman Megan Lancaster.
Tuesday’s event was organized by Lancaster’s friend and sister-in-law Kadie Lancaster.
“The event is to bring awareness to all the problems in Scioto County including murdered, missing and wrongfully convicted,” Kadie Lancaster stated. “I feel like people talk online and on social media, but that isn’t enough. They (area leaders and law enforcement) need to see us. They need to see we’ve had enough and will demand change. We want our town and our county to be better.”
Kadie Lancaster, a South Webster resident, says people came out for Mykal and Candy Newsome, who were murdered at their home in Minford; Kayla Eitel, who has been missing from Sciotoville since 2016; numerous other unsolved missing persons and murder cases; the drug problem; corruption; government transparency; and wrongfully convicted.
Among those standing for a person they feel was wrongfully convicted was Audrey Dotson, of Franklin Furnace.
“There is a large percent of the county that really believes in this,” she stated. “People need to be accountable. Our prosecutors need to be accountable. Our judges need to be accountable. And, we need to hold them accountable. We need legislative change because they have a license to lie. Prosecutors and law enforcement are allowed to lie and no one challenges them.”
Dotson stated that she has been fighting for her daughter, Kara Garvin who was convicted of triple murder in 2010 and is still incarcerated. Dotson provides details and documents regarding get daughter’s case to the public online at www.freekaragarvin.com. She is currently working with such entities as the Innocence Project to prove her daughter’s innocence.
“I’m not just fighting for my own daughter. I’m fighting for all wrongfully convicted and for all people that are like Megan (Lancaster) who have gone missing and law enforcement is doing nothing about. She is one of many.”
Dotson added that she believes change is possible through unity.
“It was a grassroots effort that ran the pill mills out of town,” she stated. “It was people, everyday people from the community that came out to fight, and I think if more would come out who really feel there needs to be a change, we could change this too. Just go back 10 years and look. We can do it again if everyone is willing to fight.”
Local resident Flint Sparks added that these problems have grown because of the money to be made.
“When the government decided to start profiting from the drug war, it was incentivized to expand,” Sparks commented.
He added that there is no incentive to fight the drug problem when profit is made through fines and fees.
Many of those protesting outside the courthouse demanded change for their children.
Resident Randi Carr explained that she is a recovering drug addict who has seen the problems of the area up close. She also is a mother of four.
“I know a lot of the girls that are missing, Megan (Lancaster) being the one I was closest to,” she said. “I think there has to be a change for the next generation.”
Those gathered also stated they plan and encourage others to battle this fight at the election polls on Nov. 7.
After the protest, during the vigil, care packages were gathered for women currently on the streets. The packages included hygiene items, hand and foot warmers, chapstick and other necessities.
It’s were gathered by Heather Stevens, who said she creates the packages for women that needed assistance.
“We need change, and the girls need help,” she stressed.
The missing or unsolved murders in the local community include Melissa Blevins, who went missing in February 2010 at the age of 31; Kayla Eitel, who went missing January 4, 2016; Jennifer Shepherd, whose body was found in Pine Creek in Wheelersburg in June 2013; Angela Holsinger, who has been missing since May 1998; and Nichole Alloway, a North Carolina woman who went missing from Scioto County in June 2009 before her body was found a month later off route 73 in Otway. One arrest was made in connection with her death at the time; however, no one has been charged with her murder. The missing or unsolved listed are only those cases which have been identified by the Attorney General’s Office of Ohio or local family members.
Megan Lancaster went missing in April 2013. Tuesday would have been her 30th birthday.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.