SALEM- Investigators were out in force Friday searching along state Route 45 for evidence in connection with Monday's assault that left Melinda Todd dead and her young grandson severely injured.
About 20 police officers and sheriff's deputies who are members of the Columbiana County Homicide Task Force searched both sides of Route 45, from Todd's home on Salmar Drive south to the bottom of the Ski Slope. The search was conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
County Sheriff Ray Stone declined to say what they were looking for or if anything relevant to the case was found. "We searched the area to make sure we didn't miss anything," he said.
A cold rain didn't appear to hamper a highly visible evidence search by members of the Columbiana County Homicide Task Force along state Route 45 Friday. (Salem News photo by Patti Schaeffer)
Todd, 43, was found dead Monday at her Salem Township home by her two daughters after they arrived home from school. Her 5-year-old grandson, Cole Reed, also sustained major head injuries and underwent brain surgery at Akron Children's Hospital. He regained consciousness and was interviewed by investigators on Thursday.
Officials have declined to say how Todd was killed or Reed was injured, but the boy's grandfather has said he was shot in the head. The county coroner's office has yet to issue a preliminary ruling in the case.
In addition to searching along Route 45 and around the Salmar Drive property, Stone said task force officers spent Friday interviewing people who may have information about the case.
This was the first time the county homicide task force has been used since it was created earlier this year. Participating police departments voluntarily assign an officer to the task force, providing a pool of investigators that any department can call upon for assistance when a homicide occurs in its jurisdiction.
The idea behind the task force is to provide enough manpower to help with the investigation during the first several days, which are often the most critical. The chief law enforcement officer for the community where the homicide occurs retains jurisdiction over the probe.
In this instance, the case is within the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office, and Stone said the task force has provided tremendous assistance to his four detectives.
"It has worked out pretty good. It's really helped out," he said.
Assisting Friday were officers from Salem, Columbiana, St. Clair Township, East Palestine, troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Salem Township constable. Other departments have sent officers at other stages of the investigation, in addition to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
"They've all sent different officers and have worked out great. I'd rather have too many (investigators) than too few," he said.