Missing Cairo woman's body found in Ohio River in Kentucky

Friday, April 26, 2013

CAIRO, Ill. -- The body of a missing Cairo woman was found early Wednesday morning in the Ohio River.

Sandra Farris, 55, was reported missing after she failed to return from a walk March 28.

Employees from Ingram Barge Co. spotted Farris' body floating near Owens Island Wednesday, the McCracken County, Ky., Sheriff's Department reported.

The Paducah, Ky., Fire Department, which has a station nearby, was able to put a rescue boat into the water in a matter of minutes, said Det. Tim Reed of the McCracken County Sheriff's Department.

He said toxicology results and a cause of death are pending, but an initial autopsy showed no signs of foul play.

How Farris' body ended up 50 miles upstream from Cairo remains a mystery, however.

"There's no signs of trauma on the body, and there's no real suspicious behavior of anybody, be it friends or family, that Cairo can find linked to her," Reed said. "Doesn't answer the big questions: Why did she go missing? How'd she get in the river? How'd she get upstream?"

Reed said a Cairo police officer has spoken with Farris' ex-husband, William Robert Smith, 56, twice since her disappearance, but he is not a suspect in her death.

"At this time, there's no suspicion of Robert [Smith] being involved or actually of any foul play," Reed said.

Alexander County circuit court records suggest Farris and Smith had a tumultuous relationship, having married and divorced twice between February 2004 and December 2012.

Farris often took walks around a three-block area near her home, weather permitting, Reed said.

"It wasn't uncommon for her to say, 'Hey, I'm taking off for a walk' and leave her cellphone and purse and cigarettes and everything at the house. She was right there," Reed said.

Farris left for a walk between noon and 1 p.m. the day of her disappearance, with the "sun shining in the middle of the day," Reed said.

Farris was last seen near St. Mary's Park. The park is within sight of Magnolia Manor, a popular historic site, and the surrounding area is full of Victorian homes with flowering trees planted in well-kept yards.

"It amazes me that someone ... in the middle of the day, right smack dab in the middle of a city, can go missing, and nobody's seen anything," Reed said. "Cairo's ... got its reputation. It's got its ups and downs, like a lot of little cities now, but it's not a ghost town. There's always people out, driving, walking."

Farris was not the first member of her family to disappear under mysterious circumstances. Her brother, Kenny, went missing in 2010, Reed said. His fate is still unknown.

"I talked to the officer that took her missing person's report this afternoon, and they ... know nothing about his disappearance," Reed said.

He said another of Farris' brothers committed suicide.

"This family has really been through the wringer," Reed said.

Reed implored the public to call law enforcement with any information about Farris' disappearance.

"Anyone with any knowledge, no matter how insignificant they think it is, call your local authorities and tell them you may have some information with regard to this lady," Reed said. "Fortunately, we've been able to find her and help the family with some closure, but there's still a lot of questions that need to be answered."

Anyone with information about the case can call the McCracken County Sheriff's Department at 270-444-4719.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Cairo, IL

Paducah, KY

Map of pertinent addresses

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