Covington Police Search for Body After Tip from Newspaper
UPDATE (4:45PM): The search has been called off. All bones recovered believed to be animal which Covington Police will confirm with the medical examiners office, according to Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders.
Covington Police have been on a Latonia property since early Friday evening after receiving a tip to search a cistern behind a building that most recently housed a ceramics shop. Police Chief Spike Jones told The River City News that department got a tip from the Cincinnati Enquirer which received the tip originally from a source.
Police, firefighters, and crime scene investigators increased in numbers on the scene throughout Saturday morning as did a growing number of onlookers after word spread that the search may involve missing teen Paige Johnson who disappeared, possibly from Covington, in September 2010.
The tip advised that there could be human remains in the cistern in the back of the property, Jones said. A cadaver dog was brought to the premises and reacted when brought near the cistern but Jones explained that cadaver dogs will react when there is a presence of methane gas which would be likely since the cistern had been used for human waste and garbage for more than sixty years. "Nothing of interest has been found," Jones said. "We are exercising due diligence in making sure there are no human remains and we are optimistic that there are not."
Neighbors near the property at 3508 Decoursey Avenue told The River City News that the owner of Paint Yourself Silly, which was located inside the building, is a close friend of Johnson's family and even hosted a vigil on behalf of the teen last year at the property. A large photo of Johnson was on display in the buildling's windows for a long time, they said. Jones said that the police have not linked the search with the Johnson case.
"We're looking at this as if it were a search for possible human remains," the chief said. "We're not assigning an identity to anyone."
Paint Yourself Silly was only open a short time and closed not long after Johnson disappeared, neighbors said.
Johnson, 17, was last seen at her mother's home in Florence when she was picked up by Jacob Bumpass, 24, who has been in custody since late 2010 on unrelated parole violations but has long been a suspect in the teen's disappearance.
Another large scale search for Johnson's body took place in July 2012 when investigators scoured a large wooded area near Barbourville, Kentucky. That search, also prompted by a tip, came up empty.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Investigators search the property at 3508 Decoursey Avenue in Latonia Saturday morning/RCN