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Police searching for ‘person of interest’ in death of woman

PAULDING, Ohio (WANE) – Police in the Village of Paulding, Ohio, are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 21-year-old woman.

Hannah Fischer’s body was found just before 5 p.m. Tuesday inside an apartment, according to a release faxed out Thursday morning from the Paulding Police Department.

The discovery was reported to Paulding Police and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department according to the release and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to “process the scene,” which sits a block away from the Paulding Police Department.

Paulding Police Chief Randy Crawford said Thursday afternoon that a handyman discovered Fischer’s body when he was sent to the apartment because the rent was overdue. He did not describe the condition her body was in, or explain the nature of her death.

The chief said his investigators have identified a person of interest related to it, however. Who, Crawford would not say. He said he believes Fischer had been targeted and there is no threat to the general public, though.

It was the first official word on the incident in some 36 hours. Crawford, his police force, the county prosecutor’s office and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department all refused to discuss the investigation after word of Fischer’s death began spreading in the small community.

Thursday, though, Crawford dispelled at least one rumor when he confirmed that police had only found one body, not two as rumors had been circulating that there had been multiple victims.

Paulding County Prosecutor Joseph Burkard echoed some of what Crawford said when he confirmed no one is in custody but police are searching for a “person of interest.” Burkard would not name that person, either. When asked why not, Burkhard noted that social media was doing a good job of that and declined to give specifics.

On Thursday, the ground-level Perry Street apartment sat quiet, with crime scene tape criss-crossed over the door. What crime unfolded there, though, is not yet clear.

While police haven’t released many details, a Perry Street neighbor told NewsChannel 15 on Thursday that Fischer had been beaten to death – perhaps days before she was found – and wrapped in plastic, a story told by several residents over the last 36 hours. The apartment was a suspected stash house for drugs, the neighbor said, who added she was scared because police have refused to provide information.

Crawford said an autopsy on Fischer won’t be completed until early next week. Her body has been taken to Toledo where the Lucas County Coroner’s Office will be performing the procedure. Crawford believes Fischer is from the Montpelier, Ohio, area.

A GoFundMe account has been established to help Fischer’s family pay for funeral expenses.