Reward offered for missing couple info

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Jackie Davis, sister of missing Martins Ferry woman Joni Davis, and her friend Paul Newell speak Monday about their continued worry and emotional pain during the year since Joni Davis and her caregiver Brian Goff, also from Martins Ferry, went missing. The Belmont and Jefferson county sheriffs’ departments are jointly offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the pair.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — One year to the day after a Martins Ferry couple went missing, the Belmont and Jefferson county sheriffs’ departments announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the pair’s discovery.

Brian Goff, 64, and Joni Davis, 55, were last seen on June 10, 2018, leaving Pizza Hut at the Wetzel Springs Plaza on National Road, St. Clairsville. They were driving Goff’s light blue 1990 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The four-door vehicle has an Ohio license plate number of EYA 7482. Goff is Davis’ caregiver. Davis previously suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas said during a press conference Monday that his department has been cooperating with Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla and his department on the case. Abdalla was not present for the event.

“His personnel and our personnel have been working closely together for the last year and put a lot of time and man hours in,” Lucas said, adding that they have been joined by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI.

“We wanted to offer a reward for information,” Lucas said.

“Sheriff Abdalla and I wanted to put something out there … as an incentive for information to locate these individuals. It’s been a year. We’re not stopping. We’re not giving up. We want to put this out there to the community of both counties. If anybody has information, please call us. Give us the information. Let us follow it to see if it pans out.”

He added that friends and loved ones of Davis and Goff also may contribute to the reward.

Detective Sgt. Randy Stewart elaborated on the search process. He said this has been one of the longer cases he has worked on.

“We have been centralizing the search in Jefferson County. Some items in the investigation leads us to Jefferson County,” he said. “We have done a lot of work. We have executed search warrants, we have collected evidence. It’s been a very strong, ongoing case, and we’re not going to quit.”

Stewart said the FBI is no longer working on the case in the area, but law enforcement officers remain in contact with the agents.

Since the couple’s disappearance, planes have flown over miles of Belmont and Jefferson counties and police have conducted dozens of interviews. Cadaver dogs have been employed, and divers have searched bodies of water for human remains.

“We’re here for the family,” Lucas said. “We still want to hope for the best, but we’ve got to be open-minded about it, too. But we need to find them, and we need to put the family at rest with regards to them missing.”

Lucas declined to say if there are any suspects in the case.

“It’s been very hard. I never thought that I’d be sitting here a year later,” Jackie Davis of Bellaire, Joni Davis’ sister, said. “It’s like living the same day over and over again. It just never goes away, and if it goes away from your mind for a little bit, there’s something that pops up to remind you. It’s tough.”

She added that Joni Davis is under a doctor’s orders to take anti-seizure medication twice a day.

“A whole year without medication? It’s not good,” she said.

Her friend Paul Newell, also of Bellaire, commended the efforts of law enforcement. He added that the unanswered questions continue to haunt those who knew the couple.

“Every day something touches you that you missed,” he said. “Memorial Day I was cooking on the grill, and that’s the last time we had supper with them (last year). It hit me all of a sudden after dinner. It’s just not the same until we find out what happened to them. … I don’t see how they can disappear in a car — two human beings. Someone had to see something. With this reward, I think it’ll give them an incentive to come out and maybe give us some information. I hope and pray they’ll be found.”

Abdalla later said he believes information about the missing couple is out there.

“The couple have been missing for a year today, and in the past year we searched miles of property by foot, we searched miles and miles by air, not just flying over Jefferson and Belmont, but way south, west, by plane. We’ve searched properties, we’ve searched buildings, and we continue to do that, with no luck,” he said.

“Someone knows something, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve given voice stress tests, polygraph tests and people failed. So this $5,000, hopefully somebody’s going to come forward and give us the information that we need,” he said. “If there is foul play, which we suspect, if we do find these people deceased, where did the crime happen? Did the crime happen in Jefferson County or did the crime happen in Belmont County? That’s something we’ll have to deal with at that time.”

The Belmont County Sheriff’s Office can be reached by phone at 740-695-7933 and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 740-283-8600.