HILLSBORO, Ohio — An Adams County, Ohio, woman was found dead in a Highland County motel, Monday.
Her alleged killer, Kenneth Nichols Sr., 68, of Peebles is now in a Highland County jail cell.
A disturbance in a room at the Greystone Motel on U.S. 50, east of Hillsboro, was reported to police in Highland County at around 8:30 p.m., Monday. They responded to find the body of Debra P. Lockhart, 46, of Peebles, Ohio in the motel room. Hillsboro Life Squad was called to the scene and declared her dead, said Hillsboro Sheriff Ronald Ward.
Lockhart was later officially pronounced dead at the scene by Highland County Coroner Dr. Paul Terrell.
A search for Nichols was initiated from Highland County across the county line into Adams County.
"We got the call at 9:20 p.m. It was originally reported that she was his wife, but she was not; she was seen with him a lot and presumed to be a girlfriend. I was also told he allegedly beat her to death," said Peebles Police Officer Jeremy Caldwell.
Lockhart's body was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office for an autopsy.
"I cannot comment on what happened to her. The cause of death is still under investigation," said Terrell.
Highland County Sheriff's Office notified Adams County dispatch that the alleged attacker may live in Peebles and may have returned to a 103 Chautauqua Street address, the residence of suspect Kenneth Nichols Sr., said Caldwell.
"Adams County dispatch notified Peebles Police Chief (Sam) Purdin that Nichols was a suspect in a murder/homicide. Chief Purdin, auxiliary patrolman Clay Beckham and I went to that address," said Caldwell.
At the residence, Purdin was able to talk Nichols out the door where he was placed in police custody shortly before 10 p.m. Although he appeared to be intoxicated, Nichols offered no resistance and was cooperative with officers when he was arrested, police said. The residence was secured and Nichols was transported by Purdin to be transferred to an officer from Highland County Sheriff's Office, said Caldwell.
Adams County Sheriff's Office Investigator Shawn Cooly and Chief Deputy Ryan McFarland were called in to execute a search warrant at the residence in Peebles, said McFarland.
Bureau of Criminal Investigation Officer Eva Woods is processing the alleged crime scene in Highland County, said Terrell.
Nichols is in investigative custody at Highland County Jail.
"We are anticipating murder charges to be filed. We are still speaking with the prosecutor's office and reviewing preliminary autopsy reports," said Ward. "He should be appearing in Highland County Municipal Court at 8 a.m., Wednesday,"
Updates on the case will be posted on the HCSO Web site, highlandcoso.com, said Ward.
Highland County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steven Alexander is investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call HCSO at 937-393-2212.
Contact Wendy Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 564-9091, ext. 370.
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