SOUTH BLOOMINGVILLE — A family’s search for their father has come to what appears to be a tragic end this week.
For the past month, the daughters of Jim Whitaker have been searching for information on the whereabouts of their father and on the evening of Saturday, July 25th, they filed a missing person’s report with the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies went and spoke with family members of James Whitaker, 56, of South Bloomingville. Family members reported they had not seen or heard from him since Friday, July 3. They also reported that some items were missing from the residence.
On the morning of Sunday, July 26th, detectives executed a search warrant at the residence in an attempt to locate evidence of Whitaker’s whereabouts. Some property was seized and submitted to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab.
Detectives were also able to identify a person of interest and began following multiple leads.
On Monday, July 27th, investigators were able to locate their person of interest, Michael Dixon, 40, of Laurelville, and conduct an interview with him.
During this interview, the sheriff’s office states that Dixon admitted to killing Whitaker and attempted to hide his body and other evidence on Whitaker’s property. According to Hocking County Sheriff Major Caleb Moritz, the two men knew each other and were living together for the last 18 months.
On Tuesday, July 28th, detectives obtained an additional search warrant for the residence and property and executed it with the assistance of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Scene Unit.
Human remains, consistent with the admission and evidence were recovered from the scene. Forensic analysis will be required to conclusively identify the remains as those of Whitaker’s.
Based on additional evidence and admissions, it was determined that Dixon’s daughter, Melody Dixon, 18, of Laurelville, had witnessed the incident and lied to investigators in a previous interview.
Michael Dixon, was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. Melody Dixon was arrested and charged with obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony. Both were transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
Third-degree felonies are punishable by nine to 60 months in prison depending on the seriousness of the crime and a $10,000 fine. Fifth-degree felonies are punishable by six to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Multiple additional charges are expected to be presented to the Hocking County Grand Jury at the conclusion of the investigation and after forensic analysis of the evidence provides a conclusive identity of the remains that were recovered.
The investigation is still pending and actively being worked. Additional details will be released as they become available.
Both suspects are being held in Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. Michael is being held on a $300,000 cash or surety bond for tampering with evidence; Melody is also being held on a $300,000 cash or surety bond for obstructing justice.