While the documentary Making a Murderer covered the trial and conviction of Stephen Avery, Investigation Discovery’s latest documentary series The Vanishing Women focuses on the active, unsolved investigations into the disappearance of six women in the Chillicothe, Ohio, area between May 2014 and May 2015. Four have been found deceased, and two remain missing.
During filming, there was an arrest made in one of the cases, and that man will be standing trial this month, changing the network’s plans with the new developments. Because of this, Investigation Discovery has decided to delay the final installment of the six-part series to cover the trial of James McCrary. McCrary is accused of killing Timberly Claytor, but has not been connected at this time to the other disappearances and suspicious deaths or murders. Henry Schleiff, group president of Investigation Discovery along with American Heroes Channel and Destination America, said in a press release that delaying the final episode was clearly the right thing to do with so many breaks in the investigations at this time.
“As the leading authority in true crime programming, Investigation Discovery has the unique opportunity — and, indeed, even the responsibility — to use our platform for The Vanishing Women and elevate these cases to a national level. With new leads now coming forward and a criminal trial on the horizon, it is incumbent upon ID to cover these developments for our viewers, so we have decided to return in the fall with our finale to hopefully deliver closure to at least one of the victim’s families.”
While those who have been following the series and the disappearances will have to wait for the final installment, ID will air Episode 5 July 11. The fifth installment, titled “In the Shadows,” focuses on the cases of Wanda Lemons and Shasta Himelrick, the third and fourth women to go missing. Like the other four who disappeared, Lemons and Himelrick had troubled pasts, struggling with addiction, but both had overcome the challenges and were putting their lives back on track.
The 20-year-old Himelrick had relapsed after the sudden death of her father, whom she was particularly close to, but had gotten clean again and was in a relationship. In fact, according to her best friend, Sarah Parker, she had just found out she was pregnant and had new hope for building her life again with a fresh start. That ended when her vehicle was found near a bridge with both doors open, a dead battery, and no gas on December 26, 2014.
Lemons disappeared sometime between November 3 and December 29, 2014, but the date can’t be narrowed down any further at this time because her contact with her mother was sporadic, which caused the delay in reporting her missing until December 29. Lemons had also struggled with drug addiction, plus the past trauma of six months of forced prostitution, when she was held captive in a hotel room in Texas.
Several of the women had ties to prostitution as well as drugs, leading to speculation that the crimes may be related to human trafficking rather than a serial killer. Others also feel that some of the subsequent disappearances after Charlotte Trego may be because those women knew too much about Trego’s disappearance, given the small drug and prostitution scene in a small town of approximately 20,000 residents.
While it’s important to get logistical information out to the public on the active cases in the hopes of getting more leads, the other important part of the story is the human side of the story — the collateral damage left behind after each of these women disappeared. Like in previous episodes, The Vanishing Women tells their stories through the people that knew them best. In Episode 5, we see Himelrick through the eyes of her best friend Parker, and Lemons through the mother that called her “Sunshine” because of her smile. The heartbreaking interviews in The Vanishing Women are a grim reminder that when someone disappears or is murdered, the toll is far greater than the person lost. And it’s a pain that never goes away.
The Vanishing Women has become ID’s top-rated program, and the Chillicothe Police Department reports that the show has generated dozens of tips in the six cases. Information on each of the women can be found here, and anyone with tips or information can call the task force hotline at 740-774-FIND (3463) or email findme@RossSheriff.com. The Vanishing Women airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.
[Image via Investigation Discovery]