WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) – A volunteer search-and-recovery team trudged through muddy farmland in rural Ohio Saturday, splitting away from a second group tasked with taping dozens of missing person fliers across the town of Waverly.
Armed with pink ribbons and a cadaver dog named Thor, the family of missing 24-year-old Koby Roush tried to keep warm while executing a miles-long search for any shred of evidence leading them to the man – a son, brother, and uncle – who was declared missing more than two years ago.
“As long as I live, I won’t stop (searching),” Mark Roush, Koby’s father, said. “Hopefully somebody helps.”
Saturday’s search, led by crime victim services nonprofit Golden Hearts A Voice 4 the Voiceless, was the family’s second attempt in two weeks and one of nearly a dozen volunteer-led searches since Koby went missing on July 6, 2020.
Since Koby’s disappearance and the discovery of his abandoned, broken-down car on Mount Carmel Road in Jackson, Mark Roush said agonizing over every tip the family receives – whether it be a claim that Koby was fed to the hogs, put in barrels, or thrown off a bridge – has been “torture.”
“There’s lots and lots of horror stories – I’m not sure which ones to believe,” Mark Roush told Nexstar’s NBC4 in September. “We know he was murdered; there is no doubt in my mind.”
Koby, who is believed to be indebted to someone prior to going missing, was not the only target of Saturday’s search, according to Golden Hearts founder Lena Wilson.
Just two days before Koby disappeared, 42-year-old Raymont Willis was reported missing from a swath of farmland alongside Watson Road in Waverly, Wilson said. The two men are believed to be connected through Luke Farmer, who died of a drug overdose in the weeks after Koby and Raymont went missing.
“They had the same circle of people, they were in the same general vicinity,” Wilson said. “It’s so close together from the 4th to the 6th, and it’s all in our search area pattern.”
As Golden Hearts and Koby’s family try to piece the puzzle together, Wilson said the Nov. 5 discovery of several items near the Watson Road farm, which Golden Hearts believed to be connected to Koby’s case, gave the family a glimmer of hope.
Detectives with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations executed a search warrant near the Watson Road region after Wilson informed them of the group’s findings, a spokesperson from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said.
“We feel like we’re closer to Raymont and Koby than we have been all year because we were able to find some other things, that we’ll not mention to the news media, that brought BCI into the picture this week,” Wilson said.
Thanks to the family’s own donations and other private donations, Golden Hearts is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the remains of Koby and Raymont, Wilson said.
Tips can be made anonymously, Wilson said, and she encouraged hunters or those frequently in the wooded areas near Waverly — specifically Watson Road — to keep an eye out for items or remains that seem out of place.
“Two years is too long,” Wilson said. “Let’s bring our boys home before Thanksgiving so the families can have closure, peace of mind, and know where they are instead of asking where they are.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Golden Hearts at 330-801-8904 or the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations at 740-845-2000 or submit a missing persons tip through the BCI website.