The Untold Truth Of The Chillicothe Six

Over the course of 14 months, between the spring of 2014 and the summer of 2015, several women disappeared from the area around Chillicothe, Ohio. Four were later found dead, in some cases having shown signs that they were the victims of violence. Two were never seen or heard from again.

Of the six cases, later dubbed the "Chillicothe Six," only the last victim ever received justice: Her murderer was convicted and sent away for life. However, he was never tied to any of the other five disappearances, and those cases remain unsolved to this day.

In a larger sense, the killings shined a light on the problems bedeviling rural communities at the time. Ross County, like other rural Ohio counties, was suffering under the weight of an addiction crisis, and many women, including at least some of the Chillicothe Six, were so wrecked by dependency that they turned to sex work to meet their needs. That cycle of dependency and illegal sex work provided a killer with an ample supply of victims and an environment in which someone was seemingly able to get away with it.

This is the untold truth of the Chillicothe Six.

The women

The first of the women to disappear from Chillicothe was Charlotte Trego. According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Trego was believed to be a sex worker and suffered from a heroin addiction. The mother of two disappeared in May 2014, and her whereabouts remains a mystery as of May 12, 2021.

The next was Tameka Lynch, a friend of Trego's. She was reported missing on May 3, 2014, and her body was found three weeks later by kayakers. An autopsy determined that she likely died of a drug overdose, although it was inconclusive. According to HuffPost, her family is not convinced there wasn't foul play involved in her death.

Wanda Lemons disappeared in November 2014. According to an October 2020 Facebook post, she was still missing at that time.

Shasta Himelrick disappeared on Christmas Day 2014. A few days later, her body was found in the icy Scioto River. Though her death was ruled a suicide, her family members believe she was murdered.

Tiffany Sayre disappeared in May 2015. Her body was found in a creek weeks later, according to HuffPost, wrapped in a sheet.

The last woman to disappear was Timberly Claytor, whose body was found near a vacant building, having been shot to death.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Other women were reported missing but later turned up safe

When women first started turning up missing around Chillicothe, police weren't sure what to make of the rash of disappearances. As many of the missing women were sex workers and/or were battling addiction issues, it wasn't out of the question that they were simply out of sight for a while, rather than abducted or murdered.

Law enforcement was also bedeviled, at the time, by reports of missing women that weren't actually missing, according to The Chillicothe Gazette. Several women were reported missing during that time, only to turn up alive and well or located by police a short time later.

When Tameka Lynch first disappeared, police told her husband that they had no reason to believe she was in any danger. While that statement was true when they made it, when Tameka's body was later found, clothed only in a pair of socks, "the seeds of distrust had been sown," wrote Chillicothe Gazette writer Jona Ison.

Five years later, in 2019, the murders and disappearances of the six women remained unsolved, and Chillicothe Police Chief Keith Washburn was compelled to admit that his department had done everything they could.

"This is probably the most extensive investigation ever in this county," he said.

Drugs, sex work, and human trafficking

The disappearances of the Chillicothe Six took place within a larger context: the area the women disappeared from was plagued by addiction, which brought along with it sex work, which itself, many believed, invited human trafficking.

According to a June 2015 Cleveland Plain Dealer report, which was updated in 2019 following the arrest of a suspect in one of the murders, town leaders were convinced that drugs, and the problems drug addiction brings with it, may have played a role in the crimes.

"I think people migrated here [from larger Ohio cities] and brought the drug epidemic with them," said a local pastor.

"We are plagued with evil in this town," said another clergyman.

Police were also not sure whether the disappearances were the work of a single serial killer, or if perhaps a sex-trafficking operation preying on vulnerable women was operating in the city.

Meanwhile, many of the women knew each other and were known to do drugs with each other and/or do sex work together, possibly lending credence to the idea that sex trafficking was an issue in the disappearances.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Police made one arrest in one case

In July 2015, as WLWT reported, a grand jury formally indicted Jason McCrary with murder in connection to the death of Timberly Claytor, the last of the Chillicothe women to disappear, and one of only four whose bodies were ever found.

Weeks earlier, passersby had found Claytor's body next to an abandoned building in a nearby town. She had been shot in the head three times.

Prosecutors alleged that McCrary, a convicted sex offender, and an accomplice, Ernest "Dolla Bill" Moore III, lured Claytor into their vehicle in order to have sex and use drugs, according to a 2016 Chillicothe Gazette report. Then, when Claytor smoked the last of McCrary's crack cocaine, he murdered her, said Ross County Common Pleas Judge Michael Ater, via The Columbus Dispatch.

"You essentially killed a woman because she dared to smoke the last bit of your crack cocaine," Ater said.

McCrary, however, insisted throughout his trial that it was his accomplice who fired the fatal shots, and that he was never going to get a fair trial due to the media attention surrounding his case.

Police suspected McCrary's accomplice might have known something about the missing women

Though a jury did not buy Jason McCrary's claim that his accomplice, Ernest "Dolla Bill" Moore (or "Dollar Bill" in some sources), actually killed Timbery Claytor, Moore did not fully escape the long arm of the law.

In September 2015, as HuffPost reported, Moore turned himself in after a nationwide warrant for his arrest was issued. At the time, he was suspected in the torture of a man who purportedly owed a drug debt.

However, the newspaper also reported at the time that police believed Moore might have had information about the other five missing/dead Chillicothe women. How or why authorities had that suspicion was not made clear. Moore, for his part, appears not to have revealed any information, as the cases remain unsolved to this day.

In 2016, according to The Canton Repository, Moore was convicted of kidnapping and felonious assault in connection with the torture case and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The police don't always take crimes against sex workers seriously

According to A&E TV, the murder rate among women who do sex work is significantly higher than it is among other women who are not sex workers. Specifically, of the women murdered by serial killers between 1970 and 2009, 22% were sex workers. In the past decade, however, that number has gone up to 43%.

"It's such a dangerous profession to get into. Being a prostitute increases your chance of being murdered by 200 times," said Eric Hickey, a social psychologist and the author of the book, "Serial Murderers and their Victims." He noted that murderers find them easy victims, unlikely to be missed by many people.

Complicating matters is the fact that police are generally less likely to commit resources to solving and/or preventing the murders of sex workers.

"[Police] look at a woman who is over 21 years old and who is missing and is a sex worker, and they think that person leads an itinerant life and may not even be in trouble. Meanwhile, there are 16 other cases staring them in the face that they have a better chance of solving," said journalist Robert Kolker.