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Police Without Leads in Four Unsolved Homicides in Same County

CHANDLERSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Authorities have run out of leads in the investigations of four unsolved homicides in Muskingum County.

But the families of the victims and police say they hope a break will surface soon.

Since January 2000, sheriff's detectives have not been able to close investigations of three murder scenes involving four deaths, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.

Until the last few years, Muskingum County had only one or two homicides a year, and any other cold cases are more than a decade old, Detective Robert Stutes said on Saturday.

Investigators interviewed several people after the killings, but they have no definite suspects and have found no connections among the deaths.

Sheriff's detective Mike Ryan hopes the responsible parties will give themselves away over time.

"It is frustrating, but guilt can weigh on people over the years," he said.

These are the unsolved murders:

-Garry and Karen Smith were found March 18, 2001, shot to death in their newly built home in this community 11 miles southeast of Zanesville. Mr. Smith, 60, was shot in the back and head; Mrs. Smith, 42, was shot in the head and neck.

-Leiland Cannon, 74, was beaten to death Jan. 13, 2000, in his East Fultonham home in southwestern Muskingum County.

-Darius M. Ford, 43, was found shot to death July 12, 2000, inside his car on public hunting land in Muskingum Township, about 4 miles north of Zanesville.

In a recent letter to a newspaper, Lisa Dodd, the Smiths' niece, said investigators want to solve the mysteries as much as the families do.

"You are our lifeline from this hell we live in, and we have no doubt that this coward will be brought to justice," Dodd's letter said.

There are no apparent suspects in the Smith and Cannon cases, but detectives said they believe a former girlfriend might have killed Ford, who was shot three times in the chest and head. A lack of evidence has stalled that investigation, and detectives say they need one more crucial piece of evidence.

There is some DNA evidence in Cannon's case, and his relatives suspect he died in a robbery attempt. But direction in the case has faded.

Detectives said they now must rely on witnesses or others who can come forward with information in the Smith and Cannon cases.

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