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Authorities in a rural Ohio county doubled their reward Monday for information in the deaths of four women and the disappearances of two others in the last 13 months.
The FBI has joined local, county and state investigators in scouring Chillicothe and Ross County, southeast of Columbus, since the partly clothed body of Tiffany Sayre, 26, was discovered last week in neighboring Highland County, where it had lain decomposing since last month, coroner's officials said. The cause of death wasn't released, but the case was ruled a homicide.
Sayre was the fourth woman from Chillicothe to have been found dead since May 2014. At least two others have been reported missing — raising fears that a serial killer could be stalking women in the town of just 22,000 people.
Local officials held a rally for law enforcement Monday and raised the reward for information from $2,500 to $5,000 per victim.
"Be encouraged, while knowing that we don't have a magic wand," Ross County prosecutor Matthew Schmidt said. "These officers are not going to stop working until we solve it."
Sheriff George Lavender said tips were coming in at a rate of 30 to 40 a day, allowing investigators to work on finding "who's the common denominators" among the victims. Investigators have said that the women may have known one another and that some were prostitutes or addicted to drugs, potentially narrowing the field further.
State troopers have also been redirected to the county from other districts, along with K9 units, said Lt. Virgil Conley, commander of the State Patrol's Chillicothe post.
But some in Chillicothe are chafing at the national attention.
"This is a very difficult time for our victims' families, our law enforcement officers and our community. These victims are our friends and family," Chillicothe Police Chief Keith Washburn said. "The national media has portrayed Chillicothe as a bad community. We're not a bad community."