GALLIPOLIS — Charges have been filed against a Gallia County man who was recently arrested in connection with the death of Betsy Ball.
Lee Hawkins, 47, Skidmore Road, Bidwell, is being charged with aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse following his arrest by deputies with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation on Tuesday.
The investigation into the death of Ball, 67, Morgan Township, began following the discovery of her body earlier this month in a rural area off of Piper Road near the Village of Vinton in northern Gallia County.
Ball was reported missing during the early morning hours of March 1, and deputies, along with other emergency service workers, responded by searching the area near Ball’s home on Wilder Road in Morgan Township. After receiving a phone tip, her body was discovered later that day approximately five miles from her residence.
According to a press release issued by Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning, Hawkins was arrested following an investigation into the victim’s death who, according to preliminary autopsy reports released by Gallia County Coroner Dr. Daniel Whiteley, expired as a result of strangulation.
The suspect was reportedly a farm worker that had been employed by the Balls at their family farm.
Browning reported that the expertise and assistance rendered by not only the Ohio Attorney General’s BCI agents and Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office, but also sheriff’s office deputies and staff was invaluable in solving the case.
“Our public can rest assured that we have pursued every lead brought to us, and plan to aggressively prosecute the responsible party in these types of heinous crimes,” Browning said.
Anyone with information on any crime that has occurred in Gallia County can call the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office tip-line and leave an anonymous message at (740) 446-6555.