Police still investigating woman's death
The Craigslist ad was looking for a model: $300 for an hour.
For Gabrielle Roush, the job promised to be easy money that would help pay for Christmas gifts.
But when the Grove City woman showed up to the New Albany-area home with her fiance's father in December, it didn't take long for her instincts to kick in.
"I felt really bad energy," said the 20-year-old Roush.
It's the same home on Turner Close that police searched Aug. 2 in connection with the death of a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Pataskala who also had responded to a Craigslist ad.
Deanna Ballman's body was found Aug. 1 in the backseat of her car along Bevelhymer Road in Harlem Township in Delaware County.
Jennifer Jarrell, spokeswoman for the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, said Aug. 6 the investigation is continuing and detectives are not discussing details.
Plain Township Fire Chief John Hoovler said township personnel responded to the call Aug. 1 when Ballman's car was found. Ballman was reported missing by her mother July 31.
Hoovler said there were no obvious signs of death, though it was unusual that she was in the back seat. He said medics did not attempt resuscitation.
On Aug. 3, preliminary results of an autopsy on Ballman's body showed no signs of trauma.
Investigators said they can't determine how she died at this time, and that further tests could take weeks. They said it would take eight to 12 weeks to finish toxicology tests on Ballman's body to show whether she died from drugs or other chemicals.
Ballman was due to give birth to a girl, her third child, later this month. The fetus didn't survive.
Ballman had told her mother that she felt ill during a phone conversation before she disappeared.
James Ballman, Deanna Ballman's brother, said their mother thought she heard scuffling and a woman shouting on the phone before the call was disconnected.
She had called from her cellphone July 31, after saying she was going to the New Albany area to clean a home. She saw the job in an ad on Craigslist, she told her family. Ballman had left her young children with her mother in Pataskala.
Detectives have said they are treating Ballman's death as suspicious.
According to Columbus police records obtained by WBNS-TV (Channel 10), Roush is one of at least three women who responded to Craigslist ads possibly to go to the home on Turner Close, which is in the Columbus portion of the Hampsted Village subdivsion. The house is about 5 miles from where Ballman's body was found.
The records show that police have been called to the house on Turner Close at least eight times in the past two years, though some were for reports that the doctor who lives there didn't show up for work. ThisWeek and the Dispatch are not naming the homeowner because he hasn't been charged with a crime.
One report, from April 2011, was filed by a woman who said she had met a man on Craigslist.
In a 911 call, she told the dispatcher, "I came to a gentleman's house and, um, he accosted me and, uh, we met off of Craigslist."
The dispatcher asked the woman whether she needed help in leaving the place and the woman answered, "No, I just need a police cruiser."
Roush said she went to the home after answering a Craigslist ad. The man who placed the ad told her that he was looking for a model so he could paint "a picture of what the insides of a person looks like but on the outside." He wanted to paint her internal organs onto her stomach, and said it was an assignment for a medical class. He told her he was a doctor.
She said that her future father-in-law went with her, to be safe. When they arrived at the Turner Close home, the homeowner answered the door in scrubs. She said they became anxious when the man refused to let the fiance's father stay with Roush while she modeled for the man, who wanted to do the painting in a room upstairs.
"He said, 'You guys can come see it. There's nothing I'm hiding in there,' " she recalled. "I'm (thinking) like 'No thank you. You're not locking me upstairs.'"
Roush said her fiance's father threatened to call the police. The man told the two to leave, giving them $40 for gas money.
Roush said her father-in-law called police from outside, watching the man leave his home and return later. Roush said they met police when they arrived and when officers knocked on the door, the man did not respond.
Another 911 call that came from the house, records show, was placed in September 2010 by the homeowner. He said he had invited a woman into his home and that she stole his TV and other items.
"I think she set me up or something," he said in the call.
The sheriff's office would not say how the house on Turner Close might be connected to Ballman's disappearance, and the warrant authorizing the search has been sealed by a Franklin County judge.
Deanna Ballman had just moved back to central Ohio from Colorado after leaving her husband, family and friends have said. Her husband, reached by phone this week, declined to comment.
The Colorado Army National Guard has said Ballman was a supply specialist with the 220th Military Police and was transferring to an Ohio unit.
Using information from Ballman's cellphone company, investigators tracked her phone to Hampsted Village, specifically to a pond near a bike path. The company said it believed the phone was within a 1,000-foot radius of that spot, Pataskala Police Chief Bruce Brooks said.
The New Albany Police Department assisted in the search for Ballman after she was reported missing and a signal from her cell phone was recovered within 1,000 feet of the Hampsted Village subdivision, part of which is in New Albany.
New Albany Police Chief Mark Chaney said New Albany police assisted other departments in searching for Ballman's phone.
As many as 100 people searched for the phone, which had not been recovered as of ThisWeek's press time.
"We still do not know where her phone is," Chaney said.
He said New Albany police officers have not been involved in the investigation since the search for the phone concluded.
ThisWeek New Albany News reporter Lori Wince and Dispatch reporter Lori Kurtzman contributed to this story.