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.
The second case involves William Reed who was last seen on Dec. 9, 1987, in the Colcord and West Siloam Springs area.
Reed used three different dates of birth — March 12, 1955; March 31, 1955; and March 21, 1956; Melton said. Reed has never been declared legally dead, Melton said.
Melton said the Reed case was reopened about a month ago at the request of Reed’s brother.
Reed’s brother also has requested information from the Benton County, Ark., Sheriff’s Department, Melton said. Because their files are kept in old storage rooms, it’s taking some time for Arkansas authorities to retrieve them, Melton said.
“We don’t know what is in the files, but we are reasonably sure there are names of witnesses we would like to contact,” Melton said.
Melton also said authorities have a possible motive, but do not want to make that information public yet.
“We received some statements from a witness that he was killed in the south end of the county,” Melton added.
Charlie Melton, captain with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department, can be reached at (918) 253-4990. All calls and news tips can remain confidential.
By Sheila Stogsdill
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