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Dayton volunteer treasure hunters help solve Warren County homicide

Posted at 8:22 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 23:20:25-04

LEBANON, Ohio — When Lebanon Police couldn’t track down a cell phone in a 2021 homicide case, they turned to an unlikely group of volunteers for help.

The Dayton Diggers, a group of men and women experienced in using metal detectors to find treasurers, helped officers on the hunt for the evidence police believed could make a case against the accused killer of Joseph Kancy.

“We were just very happy that we could go out and find it," said Jared Shank, club historian. "It was just a rewarding experience for us. Nice to be able to help law enforcement when they needed that help, and provide that service."

Kancy's phone had been tossed from a vehicle in a ditch line on a remote area outside Miamisburg. Investigators knew where cell phone tower pings said it might be, but days of searching turned up nothing.

After two days of searching last June, Shank found the phone. Police then took it in for evidence in the case.

“Just exciting. You have that instant gratifying feeling. Then it sort of changed into the — being thankful. Oh, thank God, I found this. I hope it can help solve this crime. Help let the family know what happened,” Shank said.

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Jared Shank points at the cell phone he helped officers find in Lebanon.

Kancy's mother, Marilyn, said she was grateful to hear his phone had been found.

“Very emotional. We have something now to hopefully find out what happened,” Kancy said. “Without them, I don’t know where we’d be right now. There’s no way I can thank them.”

Marilyn Kancy said her son loved basketball. He was a man of faith and had a contagious laugh.

“Now he can rest easy," Kancy said. "There’s some justice. There’s not really full justice when someone loses a life. Nothing this kid could be sentenced to ... can bring my son back and make this right."

Hemilio Castro, 20, of Miamisburg pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 22-year-old’s death. Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald Oda sentenced Castro to an indefinite sentence of 14 1/4 years to 16 1/2 years in prison.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the defense and prosecution agreed to the plea to a lesser charge during trial. Castro took the stand in his own defense, testifying he acted in self-defense. Fornshell said their only witness to dispute the claim was the victim. He is dead, thus the plea deal.

Marilyn Kancy said she still has compassion for Castro.

“I hope in some sense he can maybe find God and become a better person out of this," she said. "He still has a life after he gets out. I hope he makes it a better life.”

She said she remains grateful for the work of a few volunteers who cracked the case

“If they wouldn’t have found that phone, I believe to this day we wouldn’t know who would’ve killed my son," said Kancy.

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