WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) — Danielle Dyer sits among photographs and home-made posters, tributes to her younger brother Koby Roush, a spiral-bound notebook on the couch nearby. She doesn’t want to leave out any detail that might help to bring Koby home, even though she feels sure that he is dead.
Those first few months after July 5, 2020, when police found the car of Koby Roush, 24, off Mt. Carmel Road near Jackson, Ohio, were not only painful for Dyer; they were terrifying.
“It’s thrown my world into a whole different world — before it wasn’t as scary…for the first year we couldn’t sleep,” Dyer, 38, recalled. “We thought people were going to burn our house down. We had death threats. We thought people were after us. Me and my sister and brother all got concealed weapons.
“We were afraid for our lives. It was scary that people out there are capable of doing something like that,” Dyer said.
So-called “tips” aimed to hurt, not help
“Someone called [from New York] and tried to get ransom that he was keeping my brother hostage,” Dyer recalled. But when Dyer’s family asked a question only Koby would know, the blackmailer couldn’t provide an answer. “Just horrible things that people do, and we’re already going through so much.”
But the worst was this so-called tip: “That he’d been fed to pigs,” Dyer said. “We couldn’t sleep for weeks after that, imagining something like that happening to my brother.
“Put in barrels, thrown off bridges, shot…kidnapped. All kinds of things,” she said about the tips. “Just don’t know how much is true, but we’re pretty sure that he was shot.”
“I pray that someone could find something.”
As children, Danielle and Koby spent a lot of days at the beach in Florida where they lived. At first they were back and forth because of her father’s jobs, and then moved permanently to Somerset, Ohio, when Danielle was 10 and Koby was 4. They had go-carts and dirt bikes — happy memories for Danielle.
Life took a turn when their mother died in 2018 of lung cancer.
Roush found solace in getting a backpiece — a large tattoo which covers the back, and can be thousands of dollars from a good artist. Koby owed money for this backpiece and that may have caused a fight, according to people who contacted Dyer.
“He was doing [the tattoo] for my Mom and different things he was going through in life. That’s how he expressed his feelings,” Dyer said.
An older neighbor first gave drugs to Roush to try as an early teen, Dyer recalled.
“Since that moment, he’s had a lot of trouble.” Dyer said her brother turned to the drugs as an escape. “He said he didn’t have to think when he was doing it.
“He just had a lot of hurt from different things going on in his life. A lot after my mom died, that was just to cover it up. Then he’d feel guilty and he wanted to make her proud.”
Roush kept trying to turn himself around. “Every time he’d done something, he wants to hurry up and better himself.” He put himself into rehab, wanted to go back to school to be a therapist, and took up boxing — with a fight scheduled the week after he disappeared.
Dyer had planned to go to the boxing match, to cheer her brother on.
An eerie premonition
“The night before [Koby died] I had a dream that my mom was holding me, I was looking at a body of water, and I felt something wasn’t right,” Dyer said.
“My dad got a call at 5 o’clock that morning [July 5, 2020] and Koby had told my dad his car was stuck.” They live about two hours from where Roush’s car was discovered on Mt. Carmel Road, Raccoon Township in Gallia County, according to Google Maps satellite view, so it was decided Roush would call someone who lived closer.
“He said he was calling someone named Luke, and after that his phone just went dead, went to voicemail, we couldn’t get ahold of him.”
Prior to that night on July 4, 2020, Roush was at a friend Paul’s house. Dyer believes her brother left with a person named Kody.
“And from there we don’t know what happened. We’ve heard all kinds of horrible things,” Dyer said.
A fight and a relapse
In his last message to a friend, Roush said that he’d taken drugs again, and was upset with his roommate for bringing drugs into the house.
Dyer played the message on her phone; it had been sent to her by the person who received it.
Roush said in the message: “Dave and I got into a big fight and I’m moving out because he was getting high and kinda puttin it out there too much and I don’t wanna be around it.
“So then it turned from that and so I relapsed…anyway, just a big bunch of bull****. But it’ll be fine. I ain’t worried about it,” the message concluded.
An abandoned paper mill
An officer found Roush’s car abandoned, and called his father. “It was at an old paper mill, like strip pits. Someone just dropped it off, looked like,” Dyer recalled.
But the next discovery had Dyer in pieces. “I found my mom’s ashes, and some kind of band [Koby] had on his hand.
“Those were my mother’s ashes that he wore around his neck. He never took them off.
“They was beside the car. My husband picked them up out of the sand and I busted out crying. Because I knew something was wrong with my brother — he wasn’t here anymore.”
The one tip that stuck
Of all the tips the family received, only one person seemed to be legitimate.
“There’s a lady that called me and my father, and she told me that my brother was murdered in her truck,” Dyer said. “She went into detail. She told me the people that was involved…she told me about a Sheriff Reader that was out in the yard, and that she told him everything and begged the police to come and investigate and they wouldn’t.
“[She] said [Koby] was shot in the head. They cleaned the truck with cleaner. She said the truck had all kinds of cleaner, bleach smell, and they came back later that morning — but she didn’t give a location of the body.”
Dyer says the woman told her that a person who was allegedly in the truck at the time of the killing was later found dead.
An appeal to hunters
At the moment the family would like hunters, and mushroom hunters, to keep an eye out for Roush’s remains.
The last known location of Koby, where the family found his abandoned car was 38°56’43.8″N 82°25’47.8″W on Mt. Carmel Road, Raccoon Township in Gallia County. It is close to a former paper mill.
The family has put out a $5,000 reward to help find Koby Roush. Anyone that may have information about the case is encouraged to call BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446) or submit a missing persons tip through the BCI website.