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SEARCH Dogs find scent of missing woman in lake's water



Published: Thu, July 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Buoys were installed to mark a spot that will be more thoroughly searched today.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

GUILFORD LAKE -- Authorities were to return this morning to Guilford Lake to determine if an object scented by cadaver-sniffing dogs is the body of Tracy Hill, a 24-year-old Middleton Township woman missing since early June.

Officials spent much of Wednesday searching the lake using boats that carried dogs trained to smell gases emitted by cadavers, even if they are under water.

Scent detect: For much of the day, the search of 400-acre Guilford Lake was fruitless, until about 6:30 p.m., when the dogs detected a scent coming from beneath the water.

Divers checked the site but were unable to positively confirm what lay beneath.

"They don't know what it was," Jerry Herbert, a detective with the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department, said today.

With evening setting in and underwater visibility diminishing, authorities decided to mark the site with buoys and return today to see if the object can be brought to the surface.

Sheriff's officials were assisted in the search by park employees and a county-based search and rescue team.

Herbert said the object was centrally located in the lake, which is part of a state park.

Why search lake? Sheriff Dave Smith said the lake is being searched partly because Hill's estranged husband, Clifford, 32, of Guilford Lake was found in the lake area June 18 in possession of a car used by Mrs. Hill.

The car belongs to Mrs. Hill's mother, Linda Zoanne Evans of Holmesville, who told authorities that Hill didn't have her permission to use it.

Clifford Hill has since been indicted on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and is being held in the county jail.

He has not been named a suspect in connection with his wife's disappearance.

Authorities also decided to search the lake because earlier tips indicated that Hill's body had been dumped in one of the park's outhouses. The outhouses were searched, but no body was found.

Smith described the lake search as a means of ensuring that the park and its environs were combed.

Hill was last seen June 7 at her job at Duo-Corp on Miley Road in North Lima. She had been working there about six weeks.

On June 8 a woman identifying herself as Hill called the business to report off. She hasn't been seen since.




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