Authorities, mom offer theories on Hicks' death

The official word on Regina (Rowe) Hicks' October 2001 death was drowning. Sheriff's detectives and Lacella Holbrook, the victim's mother, have their theories of what led to the 23-year-old Willard woman being found in her car in a pond near Section Line Road 30.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010


The official word on Regina (Rowe) Hicks' October 2001 death was drowning.

Sheriff's detectives and Lacella Holbrook, the victim's mother, have their theories of what led to the 23-year-old Willard woman being found in her car in a pond near Section Line Road 30.

What seems most telling is there were several bruises near Hicks' scalp, which weren't consistent with a vehicle crash.

Capt. Jamey Bracken was a detective sergeant when authorities recovered the woman's body in her white Chevrolet Camaro.

"She was placed there," Bracken said. "We believe she was dragged. ... I know it was a pretty tight timeline.

"And she was alive when she went into the water. We know that," he added.

Holbrook has a similar theory.

"She was knocked up side the head, dragged through the dirt (and) placed in the car," Hicks' mother said. "Her total side of her head was beat."

The state Highway Patrol was brought in to reconstruct the scene.

"There was no evidence of any crash," said Detective Sgt. Dane Howard, who now oversees the investigation. "There was a low impact into the water."

The investigators don't know, or wouldn't say, how the Camaro ended up in the pond. Howard called it "an important part of the puzzle," but wouldn't be more specific.

Holbrook said she believes someone, working with an accomplice, drove the car into the pond after her daughter was assaulted.

The overall depth of the pond is 25 feet. Hicks' car was found in "the upper third," Howard said.

Authorities removed Hicks' body from her car at the Willard Police Department sally port to maintain the "integrity of the evidence," Bracken said. "It was a more controlled environment than outside," he added.

Holbrook said she strongly believes Willard officers spoiled possible evidence such as footprints by walking near the pond before sheriff's deputies arrived. She thinks police should have roped off the scene and waited.

"It was out of their jurisdiction. They shouldn't have been out there," Holbrook said.

Deputies took a soil sample and sent it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bracken said deputies never got a confirmation that someone dragged Hicks into the car before it went into a pond.

It's impossible, he added, "that much sediment had settled on her clothes (just) being a passenger in a murky pond."

Several months afterward, an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation was assigned to assist in re-evaluating the evidence and facts. Howard declined to share the results.

He said Hicks had been in the pond "the better part of four days" before being discovered. Bracken said the medical examiner never gave a definite answer as to how long she was there.

"She was seen late Thursday evening," he added, referring to Oct. 18, 2001.

Both Bracken and Howard declined to name a primary suspect or the person's motive in killing Hicks. Bracken said they ran a complete criminal history on all the known suspects, but he couldn't recall a history of violent assaults.

"The driver would be the person who killed her," Howard said. He declined to share the suspect's motive because "it would tell you what direction the investigation is heading."

Looking for closure

Howard believes Hicks' relatives would have wanted the crime solved before her stepfather, Lancan "Lance" Holbrook, died Feb. 6. He had battled small cell cancer for about 10 months.

In December, the Holbrooks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible individual(s). The couple released a statement at the time, saying that finding Hicks' killer and solving her suspected murder would help bring closure to the family.

"Regina was a loving mother of a 4-year-old son, Montana (now 10). We miss her more each day and her memory will live on with us," the Holbrooks wrote.

Lacella Holbrook said she thinks about her daughter all the time and goes to her grave site "every day now." She admitted to earlier avoiding going to the Ohio 99 cemetery by herself because she would get too emotional.

"She has paid a real price in the last several years," Howard said about Holbrook without elaborating.

Holbrook credits Lance, Hicks' stepfather, with being the force behind getting billboards posted on U.S. 224 in Willard. They remind residents to contact detectives if they have information about the unsolved case.

The first billboard went up in February. The advertisement reappeared in late September in the same place; the reward has increased to $50,000.

Holbrook has worked closely with Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler and the sheriff's office. Holbrook said she gets calls "all the time" and does her best doing her own follow-ups.

"I figure they have more cases than I've got. I've only got one," she said.

New London Police Chief Mark Holden, a Willard officer in 2001, wants to see the case solved. He recalled putting in "quite a few days" of work backtracking Hicks' whereabouts after she was reported missing.

"I hope the responsible party is caught sometime soon," Holden said.

Howard considers the Hicks investigation an active case.

"We feel strongly there are people in Willard who have information and if they come forward, we could close this case," the sheriff's detective said.

Anyone with tips is encouraged to call the Huron County Sheriff's Office at (419)663-2828.


re to swiss (An...

monkey see monkey do. Yes you are right about swiss if they are not being stupid or rude the only intelligent posts they have are ones they copy off others.

And another thi...

Swiss is Gas Guzzler, too. And a few other names on here as well. Gets yelled at as swiss, comes back as someone else.

to swiss (Anonymous)

aka T$Robinson

I only want to ...

see Scott Peterson electrocuted and Paul Hicks hung !

Willard is full...

Drug related? Hang Paul Hicks??? How about we look at the big picture and the big problem here. How come there have been 2 unsolved deaths and a major drug problem in Willard over the past 10 years? Because people understand that the cops in this town are a joke. They'll pull you over for running a red light and give you the third degree...unless you're friends with them, then its ok. The probelm is the lack of respect for the police in Willard. But, is it the citizens fault for not respecting the police? No! The police have not gained it and they keep doing asinine things to keep their reputation that way. Shooting dogs in town...dumb! Allowing kids to break curfew...dumb. Breaking the laws themself...dumb. (It's not hard to catch a cop in Willard blow threw a stop sign without it's lights on) Maybe if the cops started cracking down on the real issues like...unsolved deaths, drugs and illigals in Willard then people would quit doing what they want. Just for once go after the real criminals.

swiss family......

i never said that i knew this woman, i said what the word was on the street!!that is what i had heard, and i will bet that the police are reading this blog to get clues and that is what i was trying to give them, a lead. and as far as copying your statement and using what you said as my own statement, nothing could be further from the truth, especially since you don't use a name of your own when you blog, how can anyone tell what is yours, or is that your plan , you go unidentified, and just subtitle your blog to say "to so and so" and that way in the small chance that someone finds any of the untitled comments intelligent, you can claim them as your own ! what a tool lololollolo

as usual.. (Ano...

swiss family and their idiotic comments. Go away! The police dont need to read your comments to get a clue. The only clue they would get is you are a moron.

Posting to swis...

You did it again! you came in here shooting your mouth off as 'pope otomus' and ended it with 'swiss family,' do you really think we are that stupid? OMG! YOU are the stupid one! You have no opinion of your own, you use ours. You absolutely have no clue. You don't even know what a 'tool' is, let alone to be using what I CALL YOU in a sentence. Get your own opinion, and then just keep it to yourself, k?

swiss family......

you keep calling me a tool, well, you don't know the half of it!!lol

Yes we know the...

You escaped from a mental hospital didn't you???

Steeeenking Bad...

hey sweeeeeiss, go 'head and 'splian the other half to us. We're waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiting.

jack (Anonymous)

both murders are hcso not wpd cases.

hmmmm (Anonymous)

i know paul pretty well never have i thought he ever did this to regina...i know they have a troubled past..but...the abuse went both ways..i remember paul walking around with a broke shoulder from where regina beat the crap out of him...but see that never hardly gets brought up just what he did to her...and yes if they look at the people she hung around with and the people that were around the night danny violette was murdered there seems to be a big connection.. my cousin was found hanged in a motel in willard they automatically ruled that suicide but hmmm he hung with the same group as regina and danny...and that was never investagated...and guess what it is NOT paul...everyone is quick to blame him simply bc he was the soon to be ex for montana that poor child i feel so sorry for him lucella filled his head full of such garbage...i feel terrible for her lose but i think if she would open her eyes and expand her mind a little more she would see there is a whole other side!!!

swiss family......

out of respect for this family, i wish we could stay on the topic at hand

Jon Diebler (An...

I heard Paul Hicks looks like me. Yikes.



swiss family......

you are mistaken, go back and re-read all of my comments in this story, and you will see that i have tried to stay on this topic.. when someone's child is murdered, i take that very seriously and try to stay with the topic at hand, i wish you would show them some respect in here as well

we all wish ......

that you would show some respect on every story you post on instead of showing your ignorance.

That last post ...

to swiss family.

to swiss family...

Too bad nobody takes you seriously. Seriously. They don't. After all the nasty posting you have left on here, how could anyone take anything that spews from your pie hole seriously? Seriously. I want to know.

swiss family......

you are shoewing very little respect to this girl's memory,and her family. this is not the time or the place to get off subject, and make this a personal attack on me. Ihave tried to stay on topic in this room, but some of you , well 1 person, who never uses the same surname, so they think it appears that others agree with them has made this a personal attack on me. please stay on the subject at hand

swiss family......

sorry... should be showing.. not shoeing

you idiot swiss...

you wrote shoeWING, not shoeing. Why don't YOU respect this family and stop commenting on EVERY topic at hand, which usually turns into the topic of YOU anyway, and who's fault is THAT, DOROTHY?? loser

swiss family wo...

only one person is slamming them but they are wrong!

re swiss family...

when I comment on you I always comment on your mental problems and that you are an idiot. Anything other than that is from someone else but you are to stupid to be able to tell the difference. Someone else calls you Dorothy and gas guzzler. Get a clue! Nobody wants to hear any of your opinions!

Pathetic. (Anon...

99% of the comments on this story are PATHETIC. I can see a few of you have very little respect for yourselves let alone others, including this grieving family. Why not privately exchange email addresses and throw your sad little insults at eachother that way? Out of all the stories on this site you have to do it here? HERE?! Grow up, learn sympathy and apathy, and go elsewhere to do your cyber fighting.

Dear Pathetic (...

at least we're not accusing someone of farther down on the comment section, won't you? I'll bet Paul Hicks is GLAD this is a slugfest with swiss family and not him.

re dear patheti...

you are so right!

Sunnie (Anonymous)

I feel really bad that Regina had to die the way she did. Someone (s) out there knows who did it. I feel really bad for her little boy. I don't think anyone should be bashing Lacella (her mother), either. How would you act if your daughter was murdered. You would want it solved. I just don't understand why Huron County has such trouble solving murder cases. Remember the Brian Studer case? Unsolved. I know there are a few others also.

re sunnie (Anon...

danny violette