Frustrated with the progress of the official investigation, the family of an 89-year-old Chillicothe man turned to a private investigator to take a second look at the case.
A private investigator claimed the Ross County Sheriff’s Office has not properly handled the case surrounding the death of Harry Smith.
Smith, 89, was found dead inside a burned home in October 2011. At the time, investigators said that they believed the cause of death was arson, though Smith’s cause of death was unclear.
Eight months later, Smith’s death was declared a homicide.
“I believe with all my heart this family has done far more investigation than anyone else involved,” Family spokeswoman Andrea Smith said.
The family hired the investigative firm, the Lycurgus Group, run by a retired Columbus homicide detective, who looked into the case.
“The whole insinuation that he could have done this to himself is completely heinous,” smith said. “It went on for six months and that is when we decided we need outside help.”
Smith shared a report with 10TV that alleged the Ross County Sheriff’s Office failed to interview key witnesses and protect evidence.
Smith said that she hopes the report will prove another agency needs to take the lead on the case.
“I am more worried about successful prosecution because of the way this has been handled. That is why the family is insisting on BCI's involvement,” Smith said.
10TV’s calls to the Ross County Sheriff’s Office were not returned.
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