By David Lohr  

The Hunt Begins

Southern Ohio’s rural counties, with their rocky and wide-open spaces, are perfect for outdoor recreation. Coal miners, factory workers and farmers make up most of the population, and many take advantage of the streams and forests during hunting and fishing seasons. These counties were at one time a place where residents would leave their doors unlocked at night and violent crime was considered a problem of big cities.  But all that began to change in the spring of 1989.

Jamie Paxton
Jamie Paxton

On November 10, 1990, 21-year-old Jamie Paxton, a steelworker, awoke just before dawn.  It was a frosty Saturday morning, but Jamie had plans outdoors.  Ohio’s annual bow hunting season was in full swing, and he was not going to miss the opportunity to bag a deer.  Jamie lived with his parents in a cozy white frame house in Bannock, Ohio.  Following breakfast, just before seven o’clock, the handsome young man, nearly six feet tall with blue-green eyes and dark brown hair, headed out the door with his crossbow.

Jamie’s mother, 49-year-old Jean Paxton, had expected her son home by mid-afternoon.  When he failed to show, she assumed he had a successful hunt and would pull up the drive any minute with a buck in his trunk.

At 2:40 p.m., as Jean went about her household chores, she looked out the window and saw a sheriff’s car pull up.  She dashed onto the porch where her husband Mickey was clutching a post for support.

“Don’t tell me!” she screamed. “Don’t even tell me. Jamie’s dead!”

The field where Jamie's body was discoverd (David Lohr)
The area near where Jamie's body was discoverd
(David Lohr)

Her son had been found by friends on a brushy hillside along Route 9, dead from apparent rifle-bullet wounds to his chest, right knee and buttocks.

The killing of Jamie Paxton horrified the quiet community.  Hunting accidents were not uncommon to southern Ohio, but Sheriff Tom McCort knew that this was no accident. “When we saw more than one wound, we knew it could not be a accident … plus it was a bullet wound rather than an arrow, and gun season was not in yet,” Sheriff McCort explained.  

The killer had left no clues behind.  Investigators checked the area for spent cartridge cases, tire tracks, footprints, anything that might shed some light on the killer identity.  Sheriff McCort said that his deputies also “checked the area around the body looking for the spent projectiles that had passed through the body.” 

Investigators were bewildered by the senseless killing and after interviewing and polygraphing friends, family members and acquaintances, they were even more baffled.  “Everyone in the area knew Jamie Paxton. No one that we knew of, or even to this day, had ever disliked the young man,” said McCort. 

1. The Hunt Begins

2. A Mother's Determination

3. A Hunter Hunted

4. Hannibal Lector Squad

5. An Informant

6. Clues Deciphered

7. Catching a Killer

8. A Sadistic Life

9. Confusion and Chaos

10. Closure

11. Bibliography

12. The Author

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