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Police

Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson, left, looks on as Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer gave information about the office's investigation into the death of villager Lonya Clark at a press conference on Wednesday. (Photo by Carol Simmons)

Sheriff investigating villager’s death as homicide

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The recently discovered death of Yellow Springs resident Leonid “Lonya” Clark’s is being investigated as a homicide, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer announced at a press conference Wednesday morning, April 17.

Leonid “Lonya” Clark

Authorities on Monday announced that a body found in Glen Helen Nature Preserve on Friday afternoon, April 12, was Clark, who had been missing for nearly three months.

Clark, 26, also known as “Leo” by many of his friends, was last reportedly seen Jan. 13. Police officially listed him missing Feb. 6, when he didn’t make a scheduled court appearance.

According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded on April 12 to the 3400 block of Grinnell Road, near the Little Miami River, on the report of a deceased person in the Glen. The report was called in by three mushroom hunters, according to Sheriff Fischer. The Yellow Springs Police incident log listed the call time as 3:14 p.m.

Sheriff’s deputies and Yellow Springs Police officers located the body, “which appeared to have been there for some time,” a media release from the Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday.

Investigators at the Sheriff’s Office believe the body was dumped elsewhere in the Glen, about one-quarter mile east, and that high water washed it to the site where it was found. Fischer said at the press conference that the body had wounds that indicate homicide. He declined to be more specific.

An autopsy conducted Saturday, April 13, at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab in Dayton, determined Clark’s identification from a palm print. The Sheriff’s Office is in charge of the investigation, Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson said Tuesday afternoon.

The Greene County Coroner’s Office will continue to examine the remains, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Fischer said Wednesday that he anticipates the coroner will confirm a homicide ruling.

Coroner’s Office Investigator Carl Day said on Tuesday that autopsy results usually take 6 to 8 weeks to get back, but could take as many as 10 weeks.

Clark, who was adopted from Russia at the age of 4, grew up in the village and attended Yellow Springs Schools, graduating in 2011. Effectively homeless for the past nine years, he had an extensive network of support from family, friends and community members. While known to occasionally drop out of sight for brief periods, he always made contact with someone about his whereabouts. An extended disappearance was out of character for Clark, who was widely recognized as a sweet and generous friend.

Two extensive searches for Clark earlier this year proved fruitless. In early February, Yellow Springs Police, along with Miami Township Fire-Rescue personnel, assisted Buckeye Search and Rescue Dogs in a two-day search of the Glen. Chief Carlson at the time reported nearly completing a full search of the nature preserve and adjacent terrain off of Grinnell and Hyde roads near the riding center with no -success. In mid-March, searchers completed a two-day hunt of John Bryan State Park.

Anyone with nformation on the case can contact the Greene County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 937-562-4819.

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