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MISSING-PERSON CASE Search for woman continues in Columbiana, Wayne counties



Published: Mon, August 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The sheriff says he believes someone knows the missing woman's whereabouts, and he is calling on that person to step forward.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- The search for a Middleton Township woman last seen in early June continued this weekend with efforts by authorities in Columbiana and Wayne counties.

The operations proved fruitless, however.

In Columbiana County, deputy sheriffs and volunteers from an area search and rescue group scoured woods and fields Sunday in areas of Unity and Fairfield townships, Sheriff Dave Smith said today.

The areas, which Smith would not further identify, were searched based on tips received by the department in connection with Tracy Hill's disappearance.

The 24-year-old Sprucevale Road woman was last seen June 7.

Tips also led Wayne County Sheriff's Department deputies to a swampy area near Wooster, Smith said.

That terrain also was searched Sunday but produced no evidence.

Hill and her estranged husband, Clifford, 32, are both originally from Wayne County and still have family there, Smith said, explaining the case's possible connection to that county.

Search of lake: The search efforts come about a week after area authorities spent days probing Guilford Lake, west of Lisbon, for Hill.

Dogs trained to smell a cadaver underwater detected a scent in the lake. Divers repeatedly searched the water but found nothing.

No additional searches are planned so far, Smith said.

He added that authorities still consider Hill a missing person, and not a crime victim, until conclusive evidence that she met with foul play is produced.

"Somebody knows where Tracy Hill is at, and it has got to be weighing heavily are their conscience," Smith said without elaborating.

Husband: Hill's husband is not considered a suspect in his wife's disappearance. He is being held in the Columbiana County jail on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

The charge stems from his use of a car owned by his wife's mother, Linda Zoanne Evans of Holmesville.

Clifford Hill was found June 18 with the car near Guilford Lake.

About two weeks ago, authorities say he tried to hang himself in his jail cell. Other inmates saved him.

No reason for the suicide attempt has been given.




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