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Tip leads to new search for man missing for 10 years in Butler County

Ross Township Barn Cold Case Search.jpg
Posted at 11:47 AM, Sep 28, 2021

ROSS TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Ross Township police spent much of Tuesday searching near Hamilton-Cleves Road for the remains of a man missing for 10 years, according to Chief Burt Roberts.

Acting on a tip, officers began digging early this morning in searching for William “Billy” DiSilvestro.

DiSilvestro left a Rossville house on Ross Avenue after a party in the morning hours of Feb. 7, 2011, and has not been seen since. His family said he left his cell phone at a friend's house and had no money when he vanished.

Police were told DiSilvestro was shot by squatters in a home in Ross Township and the tipster claimed to have seen his remains in a barn nearby.

In the barn, officers found a hole covered with debris that cadaver dogs showed interest in, but hours of searching turned up nothing.

Roberts said it's possible the body was moved before police were able to search, because the tip came in more than 24 hours after the tipster claimed to have seen the body.

"The person who gave us this information, there was nothing for them to gain," said Debbie Estes, DiSilvestro's mother. "There was really no reason for them to make up this story."

While Tuesday's search turned up nothing, police still plan to search the house on the property as well.

"I've had this feeling when they've found other remains," said Estes. "But this one is so really close. Not far from where he went missing. Some people supposedly went there and the names, it's people Billy would know, some of them."

After leading countless campaigns to find her son in the 10 years since he disappeared, Estes has seen plenty of tips and searches end with unfavorable results.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster all night," she said. "I just kind of bury myself in the bedroom and laid there and tried to calm myself down."

Detectives have followed multiple tips in their search for DiSilvestro. In July 2011, a rescue team spent two days searching murky canal water on Joe Nuxhall Boulevard. An inmate passed a tip that DiSilvestro had been killed, put in a barrel and thrown in the water. But the search only turned up hubcaps and discarded furniture.

Also in 2011, a retired Chicago police officer called detectives after seeing DiSilvestro’s face on a missing ad in a trade magazine. The man thought he saw DiSilvestro at a gas station between the Florida state line and Tampa, but he could not pinpoint the location.

In 2015, a tip led Butler County Sheriff’s detectives on a massive search, as they dug up a wooded area near New Miami in search of DiSilvestro. But after a five-hour hunt with cadaver dogs, no sign was found at the St. Clair Township location which was pointed out by a confidential informant.

In July, Butler County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Mike Craft said detectives acted on a tip where someone found bones. Again, the lead turned up nothing.