The family of a man who was murdered and his house set on fire has released a report by a private investigator they hired after growing frustrated with local and state investigators.
It has been nearly a year since Harry Smith was found inside his burning home on State Route 772 south of Chillicothe.
"Our goal here is to get someone somewhere to do the right thing. A man was murdered," said Andrea Smith, a spokesperson for the family.
They've spoken out in the past about their anger at the way Ross County Sheriff George Lavender and his detectives have handled the investigation. Smith says the family has shelled out almost $17,000 in an effort to find answers.
"So far all we've achieved is the homicide ruling," she said.
That ruling came on June 11. Two days later the fire was ruled arson by the Ohio State Fire Marshal's office.
The report from Lycurgus Group in Columbus was not intended to be released to the media, but Smith says they decided to do it anyway in hopes that it might spur someone to come forward with more information and help get the investigation completed.
Some of the information in the report was redacted by Smith to protect the privacy of some of the people interviewed.
The private investigators determined that the investigation was not properly handled by the Ross County Sheriff's office. They also call the delayed cause of death ruling from the Ross County Coroner's office "unreasonable." However, the report says the sheriff's office didn't need to wait on the coroner's office to begin their investigation.
The report also found appears the Sheriff's office "does not appear to have treated the family appropriately." It said they haven't communicated well with the family. In addition the report criticized the Sheriff's office for asking family members to submit for a polygraph test despite not being suspects and for threatening them with arrest for interfering with an investigation.
The Lycurgus Group also believes the case cannot be solved or successfully prosecuted without changes in internal processes at the Sheriff's office.
Despite all the issues Smith believes they will find those responsible and they will be prosecuted.
"I believe it can be solved," she said. "Obviously the prosecution will be much more difficult than it should have been."
Smith says the report and interviews from their private investigator has been turned over to the prosecutor and law enforcement. So far, she says, no action has been taken.
Sheriff George Lavender said he couldn't comment on the report or what was said by the Smith family since he hadn't heard their comments yet.