Frank Tracy Jr. has now been identified as the body found earlier this week at a Paulding County cemetery. Tracy was the lead suspect in the murder of Montpelier’s Hannnah Fischer. Tracy died of a gunshot wound to the head, his death is being ruled homicide. (Photo courtesy of Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progress)
By: Forrest R. Church
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Authorities and community members have been working hard to locate Frank H. Tracy Jr., 47 year old male, for the murder of Montpelier graduate Hannah E. Fischer on February 9th, 2016. The search is over as authorities have now identified the body found Tuesday evening in a rural Paulding County cemetery as being that of Tracy.
Tracy was last seen in Paulding in early February 2016. The body of his girlfriend, Hannah Fischer, age 21, a 2013 Montpelier High School Graduate, was found in their residence on West Perry Street in Paulding. According to the Paulding County Progress, “Fischer’s body was discovered when family members looking for Tracy were let inside the apartment by a handyman”. Several days later, Paulding Police Department announced that a murder warrant had been issued for Tracy’s arrest with the complaint documents remaining sealed.
U.S. Marshals joined the manhunt for Tracy, originally offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Tracy’s arrest, then increasing the amount to $5,000.
According to the Paulding County Progress, “Since Feb. 9, rumors circulated locally that Tracy was dead. A Jeep Compass, believed to be leased to Tracy, and which reportedly had blood inside, was towed from behind the apartment. Tracy’s Silverado pickup truck was found near Brunersburg in Defiance County on February 12th, 2016.”
On March 16th, Paulding County Sheriff Landers said a mushroom hunter in Rochester Cemetery on the evening of March 15 discovered a deceased body covered by a blanket, it was believed the body had been at the location for several weeks. On Thursday, Sheriff Landers indicated that Tracy likely had not died at the cemetery and that the cause of death was not immediately obvious (Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation CSI Unit processed the scene).
In a press released issued this morning, Sheriff Landers confirmed the remains found at as that of Frank H. Tracy. Northwest Ohio autopsies are performed at the Lucas County Coroner’s Office. Investigators have concluded Tracy died of a gunshot wound to the head, not self inflicted, his death being treated as a homicide. Earlier in the week, authorities also released their investigation, ruling Hannah Fischer also died of a gunshot wound to the head, as mentioned, also being treated as a homicide.
“My office will continue to press forward investigating this crime in conjunction with the Paulding Police Department. We believe these two cases are related, and we will now focus our investigation as such,” said Sheriff Landers.
A separate body found in Paulding County earlier in the week is not believed to be connected to this case at this time. “There is no evidence that links the death investigation of Wilma Schwartz, found dead on March 14 on the Indiana-Ohio State Line Road, to the investigation involving Fischer and Tracy,” said Landers.
Sheriff Landers anticipates “working with every resource possible” from a local level to a federal level to “take advantage of the people who deal with this type of thing every day, and use their expertise.”
Sheriff Landers does not characterize the murders of Fischer and Tracy as a double homicide at this point. Authorities have to determine whether Tracy killed his girlfriend then became a victim himself, or if the same person or persons killed them both.
Hannah Fischer’s family members released a statement late Friday afternoon on their page “Justice For Hannah” stating, “Our hearts are saddened this morning with this news, not because Tracy was found dead but because the problem appears to be way larger. These drugs need to stop!! At any light Tracy was the root of our angel being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
If you have information surrounding this case anonymous tips may be left at www.pauldingohsheriff.com or by calling 419-399-3791.
Forrest R. Church may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Information provided in part by the Paulding County Sheriff Office & Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progress)
Arrest photos used by investigators and family members looking for Tracy since February.