Olentangy Valley News

No luck in search of ponds for long-missing man

Powell police, sheriff's office reignite search for Powell-area resident Tony Luzio, missing since 2005

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Law enforcement agencies still are seeking answers in a nearly decade-old missing-person case after a weeklong effort to search area ponds turned up no new evidence.

Tony Luzio, who was 25 when he went missing, was last seen July 4, 2005, leaving a friend's residence near the intersection of Bayhill Drive and Rutherford Road in Powell. Luzio was driving a silver 2004 Honda Civic at the time, and he may have been heading toward his home in Liberty Township or his parents' home in Powell when he disappeared.

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office and the Powell Police Department brought in Team Watters Sonar Search and Recovery last week to help search about 250 ponds in Liberty Township and Powell. The nonprofit Team Watters, headed by Dennis and Tammy Watters of Morrow, Ill., assists law enforcement in using sonar technology during searches.

Tracy Whited, public information officer for the sheriff's office, said Luzio's disappearance is thought to be the only open missing-person case in the county. She said members of the sheriff's office's Cold Case Task Force made it their goal to find answers for Luzio's family.

"That's just a horrible thing -- to not know the answers," she said.

The Columbus Division of Police, the Delaware County Auditor's Geographic Information Systems division, the FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources also contributed to search efforts last week. In all, Whited said, 45 individuals, including 14 from the sheriff's office, assisted in the operation.

On Monday, April 28, the sheriff's office announced the search "did not yield any clues" regarding the disappearance.

Whited said last week's efforts focused on using boats and sonar equipment to search ponds located on private properties within a 3-mile radius of where Luzio was last seen. In the months leading up to the search, the sheriff's office worked with local property owners to gain access to the ponds.

"Our commitment to them was we would be in and out fairly quickly unless we found something," Whited said.

While most of the efforts focused on small ponds that had never been searched before, Whited said investigators also returned to areas first examined in 2005.

"We're even searching some of the larger bodies of water that we searched nine years ago," she said, noting that officials hoped advances in sonar technology might help them find something that was overlooked initially.

She said the Delaware County Cold Case Task Force has not yet determined its next step in the Luzio investigation.

"We (did not) even want to talk about next steps because we (wanted) to be optimistic that we were going to find something," Whited said.

While no new evidence was found, Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin said in an April 28 news release that the search was a necessary step.

"Cases are solved by eliminating all possible scenarios," he said. "While we're disappointed we couldn't provide some closure for the Luzio family, we're certainly not giving up on finding Tony.

"This is Delaware County's only missing person case and we're committed to solving this mystery."

City of Powell spokeswoman Megan Canavan said Powell police officers will continue to be involved with the search for Luzio as it goes forward.

"They're hoping this search will end up bringing comfort and closure to the Luzio family," she said.

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