Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner offered recommendations Thursday for volunteers searching for 18-year-old Greenfield resident Madison Bell. Meanwhile, more organizations have joined the search.
During the health department’s weekly Facebook Live update on Thursday, Warner said the health department is standing by to help with the search.
Warner added that while it is important to search and support Bell’s family, those participating in searches and vigils should still observe COVID-19 guidelines.
“There’s got to be a balance here between what’s good for the community as far as how important it is to be out there, supporting that family and also the importance of trying to prevent a pandemic. We’re trying to be respectful of what they need to do and also look at how we can keep this from turning into any sort of illness issue down the road,” Warner said. “We just ask as people hold their vigils and go out and do their searches that they just take some common-sense precautions: avoid holding hands, get some distance between yourself and other people, encourage the face-covering so if they are sick and don’t know it, they’re not going to share it with anyone — same rules we’re all trying to live by.”
The Ohio chapter of the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a search and rescue organization comprising volunteers of various experiences including experienced horse owners, has joined in the search for Bell, according to Facebook posts by South Salem-based Rescue 101 Search and Rescue.
According to WLWT, the FBI has also joined the search.
The “Bring Maddie Bell Home” Facebook page, created by Rescue 101 to share information about the search for Bell, announced on Thursday that it would not be using walk-in volunteers in search operations on Thursday, but would welcome volunteers again on Saturday.
Rescue 101 created a Facebook event inviting volunteers to help with the search on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Volunteers will meet at 12646 Centerfield Rd. outside Greenfield. Searchers must be over the age of 18 and must present a valid ID.
Rescue 101 is also requesting donations to help support searchers.
Requested items include: Gatorade, bread, peanut butter, jelly, cheese sticks, small packs of personal wipes, granola bars, nuts, individual bags of chips, Slim Jims, bug spray, sun block, gallon and sandwich baggies, small trash bags and plastic gloves.
Donations should be dropped off at 12646 Centerfield Rd.
Bell reportedly went missing Sunday morning after she left her home to go tanning.
“At approximately 10 a.m., [Bell] told her mom she was going tanning, left her residence to go to the Country Corner Market to go tanning, and never made it there,” Andrew Surritt III, the founder of Rescue 101, said. “After she was gone for about an hour, her mom tried to reach out to her and was unable to get a hold of her. When they found her car at the church without her in it, that’s when they contacted law enforcement.”
Bell’s car was found at the Good Shepherd Church, located near the corner of SR 28 and Centerfield Road, a few hundred feet from Country Corner Market. According to Bell’s mother, Melissa Montavon, her daughter’s keys were still in the ignition, the car was unlocked, and the windows were up. Bell’s phone, as well as the coins and paper money in the change compartment, were still in her car.
Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera released a poster Thursday evening showing a person of interest and a car that may be related to Bell’s disappearance. He said anonymous tips can be reported to Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers by going to FB@SouthernOhioCrimeStoppers and clicking on the “use app” button. Tips can also be made though www.pstips.com or by calling 800-222-TIPS. He said tips leading the whereabouts of Bell may be eligible for a reward.
According to a missing person report, Madison Noel Bell is Caucasian, stands 5-7 and weighs around 125 pounds. She has brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes, though she may be wearing blue or gray cosmetic contact lenses. Montavon told The Times-Gazette that Bell has a small, dainty cross tattoo on the back of her neck and a large ghost tattoo on the left side of her abdomen. Bell also has tape-in hair extensions and a left nostril piercing.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.