ROAMING SHORES, Ohio (WKBN) – A 40-year-old Ashtabula County man was arraigned on abuse of a corpse and other charges on Friday. James Brooks is jailed on $700,000 bond. This after law enforcement officers found human remains on Brooks’ property. He lives on Route 6 in Roaming Shores, Ohio.
Brooks was initially targeted in a drug raid on Thursday. During the raid, law enforcement discovered the remains in his backyard.
“Bones that appear to be human remains were located on the grounds of the property, including in a fire pit”, said county prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci at a press conference Friday. “A second search warrant was obtained thereafter, and investigators collected all relevant evidence, all day and night yesterday (Thursday).”
They also learned that there was a connection between Brooks and an 18-year-old missing Warren woman. Alesha Bell has been missing since July. Investigators are being careful about releasing details about the connection between the two.
At the press conference, Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson said that it’s too soon to come to any conclusions. “At this time we don’t know how many, if it’s male or female, or if in fact it coincides with the missing juvenile and adult females that are missing in Warren”.
Warren Police Captain Robert Massucci confirmed that police were planning to hold a press conference Friday on the status of their search for Bell, but canceled it because of the developments in Ashtabula County.
The missing girl’s mother Tiffany Knepper tells WKBN that investigators have collected a sample of her DNA. They hope to confirm if the remains are her daughter’s. The results be won’t known for weeks. “I would trade places with her right now, right now”, says Knepper. “I love my daughter so, so much. I have four kids. I love my kids.”
Warren police issued an alert for Bell on Wednesday, July 29, after her mother filed a missing person’s report. She said she last saw her daughter on Southwest Boulevard walking to her uncle’s house about 5 p.m. on July 23.
Brooks is also charged with drug trafficking tampering with evidence and weapons violations.
Police reported making several undercover drug purchases from Brooks before the raid on his house. At the time of the raid, there were two women, 21 and 23 years old, at Brooks’ house, according to Sheriff Johnson.