The Union County Sheriff’s Department has five cold cases that Sheriff Jamie Patton says have not been forgotten.
“It’s frustrating for law enforcement. I can’t imagine the frustration level of the family,” Patton said.
Finding a clue to crack a cold case investigation or gathering enough information to make a solid case for prosecution is a meticulous process and takes time and patience, he said.
“We don’t want to feel pressure to present a case that’s not there and there’s an acquittal, because you won’t be able to go back,” he said.
One of the most well-known cold cases in Union County is the disappearance of Patti Adkins, who was last seen on June 29, 2001, after clocking out of her second-shift job at the Honda Automotive Plant in Marysville. It was the last day before the plant’s annual summer closing and she told a friend she planned to go to Canada with her boyfriend.
On July 8, 2001, when she was supposed to be back from Canada, her sister called police after Adkins did not show up to pick up her 7-year-old daughter.
Patton said the boyfriend, who lived in Hardin County, was married with children. Authorities collected evidence that indicated Adkins had given the man more than $100,000 over a two-year period, he said.
They also searched the man’s property and found pet fur and a speck of blood under a tonneau cover that, according to Patton, had been on one of the man’s trucks. He said DNA testing of the pet fur showed the samples came from Adkins’ cat and dog.
However, the blood speck has not yet been tested and no charges have been filed in the case.
“The concern with the blood was that with that small of an amount it would be consumed in the testing,” Patton said.
According to the sheriff, employees at the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations said more-advanced testing would be available in the near future that would not use the entire sample in order to obtain a DNA profile, so they are still waiting for that test.
“Of course we’re not getting tunnel vision," Patton said. "We’re keeping our eyes open to other possibilities but right now, he’s our main person of interest."
The most recent cold case involves the deaths of 8-year-old and 9-year-old brothers, B.J. and Brent Channell, who died in a fire on Dec. 8, 2004, in a house on Fulton Creek Road near Richwood.
They had just moved back from Florida with their mother and siblings. Patton said the State Fire Marshal’s Office and several fire departments were at the scene and found two ignition points outside the home. But the why, who and how of the case is still a mystery eight years later.
“We put a lot of information out on that and asked for the public’s help. We just didn’t get many tips on it," he said. "In the first week, we had over 70 people interviewed.”
The State Fire Marshal’s Office put up a Blue Ribbon arson reward of $5,000.
“At this point it’s still open,” Patton said.
Three other cases, including a 1993 homicide, the 1981 disappearance and death of a 14-year-old girl, and the 1976 disappearance of a 40-year-old man, all continue to weigh on Patton’s mind.
“I would hope that we can clear all five of these up,” he said.
Patton asked that anyone with information in any of the five cases call the sheriff’s Crime-Tip Hotline at (937) 642-7653 and leave an anonymous message.