ASHTABULA — Police have found the body of an Ashtabula mother of two who went missing a week ago, and three people are behind bars today, charged for their alleged involvement in her murder.
Police discovered the body of Crystal Miller Garney, 46, wrapped in plastic and cloth Monday afternoon in the railroad right-of-way at Route 167 and March Road in Jefferson Township.
Garney was last seen at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at her East 14th Street home, and positively identified Tuesday by a tattoo of her children on her leg, said Thomas Despenses Jr., an investigator with the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office.
Her death is being treated as a homicide based on the police investigation, he said.
“Preliminary autopsy results show she died from a gunshot wound to the left side of her head,” Despenses said. “She had been [in the railroad right-of-way] for several days.”
On Tuesday, Daniel A. Taylor, 32, faced charges of murder, an unclassified felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony, at his initial appearance in Municipal Court. He entered “no plea” and if convicted, he faces life in prison.
Prosecutors asked Judge Laura DiGiacomo to set Taylor’s bond at $250,000 cash, surety or property, but DiGiacomo said because of the violent nature of the crime, she was setting bond at $500,000 cash, surety or property.
Taylor’s alleged accomplices, Randall D. Campbell, 46, and Heather A. Tinker, 36, both of Ashtabula, are each charged with tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony, according to court records.
DiGiacomo set each of their bonds at $50,000 cash, surety or property, even though prosecutors asked for $25,000 cash, surety or property — because of the seriousness of the crimes, she said.
Campbell and Tinker each face a maximum of five years in prison.
The threesome are being held in the city jail at the Justice Center.
Ashtabula police detectives and members of the APD Narcotics Investigative Unit suspected foul play early in the investigation, Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said.
“[Monday afternoon] investigators received information that led them to the location of the body of a deceased female suspected to be that of Crystal Garney,” he said.
Police did not have a motive as of Tuesday, Stell said.
“All we know right now is Daniel Taylor lived [at Garney’s residence],” he said. “We don’t know for sure what their relationship was.”
Taylor, Campbell and Tinker were questioned by police Monday evening and then arrested and jailed on the charges.
If any of the three defendants make bail, they must wear a GPS tracking device, DiGiacomo said.
The Ashtabula Police Department worked the case with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department, the Ashtabula Coroner’s Office, the Conneaut Police Department and the Windsor Township Fire Department.
“We appreciate all of the help that we received from these agencies, which was invaluable to us, in bringing this investigation to a conclusion,” Stell said.