More people charged after disappearance of Pike County woman

Local News

WAVERLY, OH (WCMH) — An elderly Pike County mother has been missing since at least the summer of 2016, and the clues in her disappearance continue to slowly emerge.

That missing woman is 77-yr-old Bernice Hayslip and authorities said her daughter, 44-year-old Tracy Sowards is a suspect in her disappearance.  So is her boyfriend Johnny Kerns, the two lived on the 2000 block of Hackleshin Road in rural Pike County. Authorities said he is cooperating and told them a body was stored in a barrel here full of corrosive material on the property for more than a year. He has yet to be charged.

“We have not confirmed any identification on the body,” said Chief Investigator with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office Major Tracy Evans.

The mobile home the two lived in is about 20 miles west of Waverly.

Major Evans said Sowards is charged with receiving stolen property for using Hayslip’s credit card and being held on an older theft charge.

Another Sowards acquaintance Brandon Friend is charged with abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence because Evans said he allegedly moved the body stored in the barrel to a burn site on Lapperell Road about three miles from Hackleshin Road.

“The anthropology team had indicated to us that the bones that they had recovered are consistent with human remains,” Evans said.

Investigators are checking into a doctor’s appointment Hayslip may have attended in July of 2016 the last time she was seen.

Evans said they are waiting on the Pennsylvania-based anthropologists to determine if the bone fragments found on Lapperell Road match Hayslip.

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