3 charged with murder in Ohio man’s death

Staff Report

ATHENS — Three people were charged with murder and kidnapping and a fourth with helping bury the body in Athens County, authorities said.

The body of Christopher Meadows, 23, of Shade, Ohio, missing since July 25, was found Tuesday in a grave in the woods near Shade, according to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office has investigated Meadows’ disappearance since he was reported missing in July.

Benjamin Wayne Cochran, 29, The Plains, and William James Milam, 32, Nelsonsville, were accused of kidnapping Meadows in the early morning of July 25 under the direction of Ronnie Smith, 35, Nelsonville, according to the sheriff’s office.

Meadows died during the kidnapping, the sheriff’s office said.

Milam, Smith and Cochran, aided by James Pascol, 57, Shade, buried Meadows in a grave 5-foot deep in the woods near Shade, the sheriff’s office said.

The four appeared in Athens County Municipal Court. Milam, Cochran, Smith and Pascol have been lodged in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville.

Cochran, Milam and Smith were charged with kidnapping and murder and are being held in the regional jail on $1 million bond each. Pascol was charged with tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse and is being held on $100,000 bond.

The sheriff’s office, the Athens Major Crimes Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification and the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office obtained a search warrant Tuesday to recover Meadows’ body. After the body was recovered, another warrant was executed at Smith’s home in Meigs County, the sheriff’s office said.

Smith was arrested Tuesday in Hocking County on Love Street in Logan, the sheriff’s office said. Pascol also was arrested on Tuesday in Shade, the sheriff’s office said.

Milam was arrested on Wednesday in Nelsonville and Cochran was arrested on Wednesday in The Plains, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office, the Athens Major Crimes Unit, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification and the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office investigated and were aided by canine search and rescue teams from around the state.

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