WELLSVILLE - The two-week search for Maple Avenue resident Zane Carter ended last night when the 24-year-old's body was discovered hidden underneath some brush and a tarpaulin near the former Sterling China Company lot.
After exhaustive searches by law enforcement and private citizens, Carter was found on property owned by the village school district in an area that had been searched previously, including with cadaver dogs, but not discovered.
Lt. Eddie Wilson said police found Carter's body about 7:30 p.m. Thursday after being advised of his whereabouts by the two people allegedly with him when he overdosed on drugs the night he disappeared.
Morning Journal/Patti Schaeffer
Sobs break through the silence as the ambulance carrying the body of Zane Carter passes by the large crowd gathered at the end of Twelfth Street.
As part of the intense investigation the Wellsville Police Department has conducted, search warrants were obtained that allowed officers to obtain cell phone records.
"We looked at who had called who and realized where we needed to apply the pressure," Wilson said, adding people who had been interviewed were re-interviewed and, in the course of those interviews, officers spoke with a man and a woman who admitted being with Carter when he overdosed on drugs.
According to Wilson, they said Carter fell over, unconscious, and they panicked and hid his body underneath the brush and tarp in the grassy, fenced-in area owned by the school district.
Crowds of people lined the streets last night, watching as Carter's body was removed from the area where he died, including his mother, Bernadette. Some expressed surprise that he was discovered where he was, saying they, personally, had searched that exact area.
Wilson agreed, saying, "We were here several times in the last two weeks. We had cadaver dogs here, and even they didn't (find) him."
He said officers have worked non-stop over the past two weeks in an effort to find out what happened to the young man.
"They didn't come to us. We had phone records that led to them. We've been on this constantly since day one. We knew what we were doing. We're tired. We're glad it's over and glad that maybe people can get closure. We pretty much knew what happened. We felt there was truth in what we were being told," Wilson said.
He had reported earlier in the week that the investigation was leaning toward Carter having overdosed and others with him possibly hiding his body out of fear.
Asked whether the two people one from Wellsville and one from East Liverpool will face criminal charges, Wilson said, "We will work with the prosecutor on that, but we did say we were trying to just recover the body."
As a Tri-County ambulance removed the young man's body from the scene, scores of people who had searched for him in vain hugged and cried, while others walked with his mother from the scene. His father, Quinn, was not there, but was clearly on the minds of those gathered, including Patrolman Marsha Eisenhart, who wearily said police had kept their promise to him.
"We promised Quinny we'd find him," she said.