In our I-Team Unsolved series, WCPO examines homicide cold cases in Greater Cincinnati.
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – Opal Bogan remembers her granddaughter before she met Eric Sexton and got into trouble. Those are the good memories she keeps close to her heart. Not the bad ones.
“She was very intelligent, a beautiful girl -- very good hearted,” Opal told WCPO this week. “She would help anyone out that would ask her.”
Her granddaughter, Lindsay Bogan, had even aspired to be a nurse like her, Opal said.
Opal said she believes that good heart led the young Middletown mother into the wrong company and down a road to drugs and prostitution -- and, finally, into the woods on a Madison Township farm. That’s where her skull and other bones were discovered in a shallow grave in July of 2016.
"We are out here, and we were cutting hay and we found a pelvic bone and, like, a thigh bone." - 911 caller
Sexton, her 48-year-old boyfriend and father of her 9-month-old daughter, had reported her missing in September of 2015.
“He was her pimp. He kept her in the game. He kept her in the prostitution. He kept her in the drugs,” Middletown Police Lt. Jim Cunningham said.
It was clear almost right away Sexton’s story didn’t add up, Cunningham said.
The case took some incredible turns along the way, he said. Dozens of people tried to block the investigation, he said.
A few weeks after Lindsay’s skeletal remains were found in July, police searched the Woodlawn Avenue home where Sexton had been living. That's where investigators said they believed she was killed. It was flooded with raw sewage.
In August 2016, the house caught fire.
In all, police arrested more than 50 people who deliberately made false statements to them in their investigation, Cunningham said. He said it was “unbelievable” how many people lied to police.
“We've charged multiple people with obstructing official business in this case that deliberately deceived us in order to make a personal gain. It's absolutely unbelievable to me that so many people would lie in a case like this,” he said. “People came out of the woodwork trying to give us information on this case that was just absolutely false."
Cunningham said he now has suspects in the case and he has turned over information to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We have several people that we are prepared to charge criminally, and we are waiting to hear back from the Prosecutor's Office," Cunningham said.
But it’s not an open-and-shut case, because pieces of evidence are missing, Cunningham said.
Sexton told police he didn’t kill Lindsay. He said they were planning to get married, though Cunningham said police never found any evidence of that.
Sexton said the last time he saw Lindsay she was getting into a Dodge Durango at the corner of Central Avenue and Baltimore Street in downtown Middletown on Sept. 13, 2015.
Cunningham said police conducted "an extensive investigation" with numerous search warrants. As time passed, searching changed to digging.
“We searched multiple locations with heavy equipment. At one location, we generously had a company excavate an entire acre of land (in Middletown) on a tip that Lindsay was buried in that area,” Cunningham said.
“She obviously wasn’t."
Cunningham said investigators also dug for her at another site in Middletown. Police said they searched almost everywhere -- including parks, cemeteries, homes and alleys.
“This is a case that took forever in the sense of locating her body. We formed a task force internally, we worked with multiple other agencies -- Butler County Sheriff, AG's office, the FBI -- to locate her,” Cunningham said.
Eventually, it was a farmer and his wife working on their land on Keister Road in Madison Township.
"He just found some other stuff that was buried here, too. It looks like it might be part of a spinal column." - 911 caller
Authorities didn’t find any clothes or jewelry or anything to identify the victim. Dental records confirmed the remains were Lindsay’s. But some important bones were missing, Cunningham said.
“Unfortunately not all of her bones were recovered and some of those bones were necessary to prove manner of death,” he said.
"There's a lot of parts to this case. There is a lot of physical evidence that has been destroyed, that is unavailable to us... which makes the prosecution of it hard,” Cunningham said.
Investigators are still at work. Middletown police got warrants Friday to search several electronic devices they believe hold more evidence.
Cunningham asks that anyone with good first-hand information about the case to call him at 513-425-7747 -- especially if they talked to suspects or witnesses.
“We know these people are talking to people, and they're going to confess their actions that took place, so if there's anyone out there with that specific information we ask that they come forward," he said. "We would want direct information. We would not want rumors."
Cunningham has a photo of Lindsay taped to the wall above his office desk. Asked why, he said:
“Her case is very close to our hearts. She was a high-risk victim, unfortunately,” he said. “We want to make sure that Linsday is served justice -- that her family is given justice."
Cunningham said he has kept in touch with Lindsay’s family -- including her grandmother.
"We talk to the grandmother weekly,” he said. “We talk to the father and the other family members. We've been to their home. They were very much involved in trying to find their daughter. They're very good people... They just want to find answers... and justice."
Opal Bogan said she is grateful for Cunningham's assistance.
"He's helped me out a lot... he listens to me, and I think he will charge someone before too long," Opal said. “It won't bring Lindsay back, but at least it will get whoever did it.”
Opal will always cherish the good memories of her granddaughter.
“She was always a happy child,” she said. “She told me one time she wanted to be a nurse like me so she could work with me every day. And we loved her dearly.
“She had gone to school to become a nurse for a while, and then she dropped out.”
Lindsay’s mother, a school teacher, died when Lindsay was 12, her grandmother said. Lindsay went to Monroe High, she said.
She recalled an example of Lindsay’s good-heartedness.
"She was babysitting for a family and I asked her how much she was getting paid and she said, ‘Well, I'm not going to take anything. They don't have much money.’
“That's how she was.”
She said she didn’t know the extent of Lindsay’s problems with drug and prostitution in her final months.
“I didn't know it was that involved, but no matter what she was, she didn't need to be treated like she was. And we loved her no matter what," Opal said.
“She didn't deserve to be murdered and thrown out in the field. Nobody does.“