Still no answers in Clark case
- Published: August 8, 2019
Authorities investigating the homicide of villager Leonid “Lonya” Clark remain close-lipped about the cause and circumstances around his death earlier this year, leaving his loved ones growing increasingly distressed at the lack of resolution in the case.
Officially reported missing in early February, Clark, 26, had not been seen by family and friends for nearly three months when his body was found April 12 along the Little Miami River in Glen Helen Nature Preserve.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office quickly opened a homicide investigation based on undisclosed “wounds” to the body, with a final cause-of-death determination pending the coroner’s findings.
The coroner’s report has since been completed, but Bill Harden of the Greene County Coroner’s Office said on July 9 that information could not be released while the homicide investigation continued. He referred all questions to Sheriff’s Detective Duane Gilbert, who is lead detective in the case.
At that time, Gilbert said there was nothing new to report, and that the Sheriff’s Office was “following all leads.” Subsequent phone messages and emails by this News reporter to Detective Gilbert as well as messages left for his supervisor, Capt. Sean Magoteaux, have gone unanswered.
Clark’s parents, Eric and Jackie Clark, said this week that they remain in the dark about what happened to their son.
And they are frustrated that some details they uncovered while Lonya was still thought to be missing weren’t taken as seriously by law enforcement as the couple feel they warranted.
Cox News outlets earlier this week reported on the discovery this winter of a jacket and a debit card, both belonging to the younger Clark, that might offer clues in the case.
In a joint phone call Tuesday, the Clarks said they had found the jacket in late February after heavy winds knocked over some furniture in their carport. They said it appeared that the all-black winterwear had been stuffed underneath some stacked chairs.
Jackie Clark is certain that the jacket is the same one Lonya was wearing the last time they saw him — when he stopped by their house on his younger sister’s birthday, Jan. 13.
Eric Clark said he immediately reported the find to Yellow Springs Police, who were in charge of the missing-person case before the Sheriff’s Office took on the homicide investigation.
He stowed the jacket in their garage and later examined it with an ultra-violet light to see if it showed anything unusual.
“It had been freshly washed,” Eric said, leading the Clarks to believe that “someone had found it and placed it in our carport.”
According to the police report completed when Lonya Clark’s body was found, he was wearing a red and black flannel shirt. It is unknown whether that clothing item was the same as a similarly colored flannel jacket he had been observed wearing downtown earlier in the winter.
Lonya’s debit card was found on the Antioch College campus about a week before his body was found, Jackie said.
What strikes the parents as unusual is that the card, which was found by students on the ground just outside the Arts and Sciences building, was “in perfect shape.”
They have concluded that if Lonya had lost the card before he went missing three months earlier, and it had been on the ground that whole time, it would have shown some wear.
Had someone else had it and dropped it, or purposely placed it there?
The Clarks said bank records showed that the last time Lonya used his card was at Speedway on New Year’s Eve. No use or attempted use was logged after the holiday.
Again, the parents reported the find to the local police and were trying to schedule a drone search to check out the building’s roof when Lonya’s body was discovered by mushroom hunters in the Glen.
Jackie Clark said that a drone search of the building top wasn’t as far-fetched as it might sound, because she had a family member who had died on a roof top after suffering a heart attack.
Once Lonya’s body was discovered and the Sheriff’s Department began investigating, the Clarks told sheriff’s detectives about the found jacket and debit card.
“We didn’t know if it was important, or not important,” Jackie said, since the Yellow Springs Police hadn’t seemed interested.
The Sheriff’s detectives went to their house and took possession of the items, but didn’t offer any insights.
Still missing, as far as the Clarks know, are Lonya’s wallet, phone and laptop.
They said he had his laptop with him when he left their house for the last time Jan. 13. Wearing the black jacket and carrying a black computer bag, “he looked European,” Lonya’s father said.
He holds on to that image, and hopes there’s a break in the case soon.
In late June, the Sheriff’s Office office offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Lonya’s killer or killers.
A press release at the time indicated that investigators had conducted “multiple interviews” and that they were continuing to receive tips.
The anonymous tip line number is 937-562-4819. The number for Detective Gilbert’s is 937-562-4813.