The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 24, 2007

Oklahoma officials reopen ‘cold’ cases

By Sheila Stogsdill

JAY, Okla. — Delaware County authorities have reopened two 20-year-old cold cases of men who disappeared under suspicious circumstances. They are hoping additional witnesses will come forward, said Charlie Melton, sheriff’s captain.

“Up until now, we haven’t been able to get anybody to work (on these cold cases),” Melton said.

An anonymous telephone tip alerted authorities to search abandoned wells in southern Delaware County almost two years ago for the remains of Johnnie Ball, Melton said. Parts of a shoe or boot, an empty brown billfold and bone fragments were the only items found at one site, he said. The fragments were animal bones.

Ball, 60, was reported missing from his Kansas, Okla., home on Sept. 28, 1988. Ball was declared legally dead in 1996.

According to Melton, Ball was last seen on Sept. 27, 1988, in a green Dodge vehicle in the Twin Oaks and Siloam Springs, Ark., area.

Melton said he has been interviewing about 45 people in the past two years and searched about five sites, all yielding nothing.

However, Melton said after reviewing more old tips authorities now plan to dig at a location in southern Delaware County in the next few weeks. He would not discuss that information further.

The day before he disappeared, Ball had told his brother-in-law that he was coming into some money and if it went well, he would be set for life, his wife, Betty Ball, said in a 2005 interview that appeared in the Globe.

Betty Ball also told authorities that someone came by their house and took some of her husband’s clothing and a puppy, he said.

The family said Ball never signed up for Social Security benefits and believe he was murdered and buried in a well.

“We presume he (Ball) is dead, we just don’t know a motive,” Melton said.

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