Alesha Bell is an 18-year-old Warren, Ohio, woman who has been missing since July 23. She was last seen with 40-year-old James Brooks – a man whose home was searched in a drug raid in Roaming Shores, Ohio, last week. But when police scoured Brooks’s home, they made a bizarre and disturbing discovery.
Not drugs — but human bones. Police found the bones in the man’s backyard, where they appeared to have been burned.
“Bones that appear to be human remains were located on the grounds of the property, including in a fire pit,” prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci said on Friday. “A second search warrant was obtained thereafter, and investigators collected all relevant evidence, all day and night (Thursday).”
But do the bones belong to Alesha Bell, who is the mom of a her own 2-year-old boy? Police say they don’t know — and they don’t want to speculate.
“At this time we don’t know how many, if it’s male or female, or if in fact it coincides with the missing juvenile and adult females that are missing in Warren,” said Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson, who said that Brooks has been linked to another missing Warren woman.
But the sheriff would not reveal the identity of the other missing woman, or how Brooks might be connected to her.
Authorities have already taken a DNA sample from Alesha Bell’s mom, Tiffany Knepper. But it could take weeks to establish a match — if one even exists.
“I would trade places with her right now, right now,” said the missing woman’s mother. “I love my daughter so, so much. I have four kids. I love my kids.”
Knepper said she last saw her daughter walking to her uncle’s home at about 5 p.m. on July 29. Alesha said she would be home for dinner but never returned, which Knepper called “out of character.”
About two weeks ago, police searched the home where Brooks had been living for about two months, looking for any trace of Alesha, but at that time, they found nothing to indicate that Brooks was involved with the teen mom’s disappearance.
But last week, they found what they say are human bones not only in the backyard fire pit, but also in a wooded area behind the home.
Brooks was arraigned Friday on a number of charges, including abuse of a corpse in connection with the scattered human bones found on his property. He was also charged with drug and gun offenses.
The bones have been sent to the medical examiner in Cuyahoga County, where forensic investigators hope to determine if they belong to the missing Alesha Bell.
[Images: Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office]