Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part series. Part one was published on April 13, Saturday’s Edition of the Daily Times.
While Megan Lancaster’s dissappearance in 2013 made waves in the local community, she was not the first to go missing, or the last.
Much like that of Lancaster, the family of Kayla Eitel is also desperate to know what happened to her. Eitel, who went missing from Sciotoville in January of 2016, was also 25 at the time of her disappearance.
Nikki Barry, Step-sister of Eitel described her as loving, and compassionate. “Kayla had a really big heart. She was always outgoing and fun to be around. She was a pretty good mom, and had a really goofy personality,” said Barry. She said Kayla always tried to see the best in people. Eitel’s missing persons case was filed with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, but much like the missing person’s cases under the Portsmouth Police Department, the family feels no investigating is being done into her disappearance.
“I don’t feel like the search for Kayla is as much of a priority as it used to be, and honestly I feel like it’s going to be left to us to find out what happened to her at this point. We go out and do searches all the time on our own, and have organized a few searches on our own to try and find her,” said Barry. “We’re really trying our best to find her, I feel like the only closure we’re going to get at this point is finding her remains to lay her to rest.”
Barry said little hope is left that Kayla will come home alive, but finding her body will bring the family peace. “The only thing we have left to hold on to is finding her to bring her to rest. That’s really the only thing that can bring us peace at this point is knowing where she’s at and being able to lay her to rest and not be thrown who knows where like she didn’t even matter to anybody.”
Barry said that while Eitel had a previous history of drug abuse, she was working on getting sober at the time she disappeared and had been making good progress.
When asked if she felt drugs came into play in her disappearance, Barry stated that she felt that Eitel became involved in the world of drugs which led her to become acquainted with some unsavory individuals, which may have attributed to her going missing. “If anyone has any tips that may lead to us finding her, and they don’t feel comfortable in contacting the sheriff they can contact one of the family members,” said Barry. She stated tips would remain confidential and that the family can be found through the “Find Kayla Marie Eitel” Facebook page. “The biggest thing is her daughter is nine and has no idea what happened to her mommy or where her mommy went,” said Barry “She needs to know what happened to her mommy.”
In February of 2010 Melissa Blevins, 31, another young mother, went missing from Portsmouth and nine years later her daughter too is still looking for an explanation. In an article published last month in The Pike County News Watchman, Melissa’s daughter, Amber Ferguson, is said to have last seen her mother when she was six years old. Now 20 years old, married and with a daughter of her own, Amber says that it bothers her a lot that her mother has not met her grandchild. “She’s a very kind-hearted woman, but the drugs took her way deep,” Amber said of her mother.
According to the article, Ferguson does not believe her mother would have abandoned her children. The News Watchman states Blevins was reportedly last seen on her way to the store and may be in the Kentucky area.
While news of missing persons have been able to spread with the help of social media, for one family the case had gone cold long before the invention of Myspace or Facebook.
More than twenty years after her disappearance from Portsmouth, Angela Holsinger’s cousin still wants to know what happened. Being just 19 at the time that Angela, 30, went missing, first-cousin Bria Fuller said family photos hold some of the only memories left of Angela. “In the pictures from when I was a kid, I was always on her hip. I must have been her favorite,” said Fuller. “She was just really fun and outgoing.”
Fuller said Angela became a mother at a young age, and had a total of four children and even after falling into addiction would make regular visits to see her children, which were in the care of her mother.
“She was always a happy person. Her addiction got worse along the way, but she was still that happy person. That didn’t change,” said Fuller.
Fuller said when the family could not get in touch with Angela, they knew something was wrong saying not checking in with her mother was very out of character.
Much like the other families, Fuller says she too feels like there is no one besides herself, her sister and a few of Angela’s children still looking for her. “They’re not worried about it,” Fuller said on the Portsmouth Police. Fuller said in 2009 Angela’s mother, prior to her passing, received information that a body in Indiana could be Angela’s, but was told by detectives there was no DNA evidence left to compare to.
Angela’s mother passed away with no answers as to what happened to her daughter, and according to Fuller she never stopped looking for her. “She never got the answers she deserved,” she said.
Fuller said over the years she feels as if every inch of Portsmouth has been searched for Angela, with Angela’s mother taking it upon herself to walk the streets in hopes of finding her.
Fuller said after 20 years when remains are found she still waits on the call telling her that it is Angela’s Body.
“I get online and search for any information I can, hoping I’ll find something news that will lead us to her,” said Fuller.
She said Angela has been left out of recent documentaries and specials highlighting the missing women of Portsmouth and her absence hurts the family that is still desperate to know what happened.
When The Daily Times reached out to Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware this week regarding the cases of these missing women, and the comments he made in a previous article, he had this to say: “Those comments were directed towards the lifestyles, not directed at one particular person or why they might be in the position they are in as far as missing or found deceased, but there are certain lifestyles that make people more vulnerable to harm. That’s what I meant by the comments, it wasn’t directed at one individual. Just talking about some of the socioeconomic issues around here that make people more vulnerable and at risk.”
Ware stated that while the cases were not cold, there was little that could be done unless tips comes in. “It’s on a case by case basis, there’s one case we have that precedes my time here,” said Ware. “Obviously there’s not a lot of new information on that one, so that one sits idle until new information becomes available. But any case of a missing person remains open until it’s solved, or you find out they aren’t missing,” Ware said. “It’s really case by case and when new information becomes available it’s tracked down to determine if it’s a credible lead, or can be dis-proven, or is something that was already known to law enforcement. They remain open, but it’s a case by case basis as information comes in to determine what to do with that information.”
When asked if there was regular communication between those investigating these cases and the families, Ware was unable to confirm. “To my knowledge I would assume that to be the case,” Ware said.
Ware said that for the cases dating back to 1989 (Marcum) and 1998 (Holsinger) with no new information coming in, he doesn’t know if there would be contact between detectives and the families or not, and said with the two more recent cases (Lancaster and Blevins) he would have to ask the investigators to find out. Ware urged those with information to come forward. “They remain open cases, and anyone with information is encouraged to come forward to law enforcement so the information can be vetted.”
For the family of Megan Lancaster, the investigation will continue on into their search for, not a drug addict or a prostitute, but a young mother that loved watching MTV shows like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore, holidays, and telling funny stories. The search for their loved ones will also continue on for the families of Blevins, Eitel, Holsinger and Hilda Marcum who went missing in 1989, and Rebecca Kerns and Nichole Alloway whose remains have been found, but their deaths remain unsolved mysteries.
While investigations conducted by local law enforcement remain mostly stagnant, the families of some of the missing women point fingers at alleged local corruption for playing a role in both the disappearances and lack of progress on the cases. All agree however that there are people who know what happened to these individuals, but are afraid to come forward with information.
“People know,” said Andrews. “It’s a small town. They’re too afraid to come forward.”
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932