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Answers sought after bodies found behind home of missing Tallmadge woman, child

By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer

A witness who lives near the home of a missing Tallmadge woman said she heard her neighbor’s child cry out “Mommy, get up” several times one day last month.

The 5-year-old boy and his mother, Wendy Ralston, 31, have not been seen alive ever since.

Meanwhile, police and the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office are eliciting the help of anthropologists to determine if the two human remains found Saturday behind Ralston’s home are those of the missing woman and her son.

The remains were found wrapped in a bed comforter and dark blue sheet and placed in a wooded area behind Ralston’s home on Stone Creek Drive, a subdivision off Eastwood Drive in Tallmadge.

A man who neighbors said was acquainted with Ralston was seen talking to police Saturday and then leaving with two plainclothed officers.

Tallmadge police, whose officers remained at the home Monday with agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, have not announced any arrests.

A cause of death has yet to be determined. Tallmadge police would not comment on their investigation. They did not notify the public about the discovery of the remains until an email was sent at 11 a.m. Monday. Police have scheduled a news conference for this morning at 11 a.m.

The remains were found Saturday afternoon when Ralston’s mother went to the house looking for her daughter. She went into the backyard and noticed what appeared to be a misplaced duffel bag. She also noticed a strong odor, reports show.

A Tallmadge police officer came to the house and searched the wooded area behind Ralston’s residence and found the remains. Neighbors said it was the third time police came to the house since the first days of August.

Jim and Cindy Abbott, who live across the street from Ralston, said the woman’s son, Peyton, attended their child’s birthday party on July 21. The next day, Cindy Abbott said she heard Peyton wailing from his house.

“I heard him scream, ‘Mommy, get up,’ ” Cindy Abbott said. “I thought he was just having a tantrum and I didn’t want to be the nosy neighbor. But, nobody’s seen them since then.”

For the next four or five days, Ralston’s townhouse windows and doors remained closed. Normally, the Abbotts said, the house windows, sometimes even the screens, are left wide open.

Ralston’s car remained inside the garage and a Jeep owned by a male friend remained unmoved in the driveway.

Cindy Abbott said she called police about 10 days after hearing the screams, and an officer came to the house.

Police went to the home again Wednesday and appeared to talk with a male friend. Afterward, Abbott said police officers asked her 4-year-old daughter if Peyton or his mother talked about taking a camping trip. They had not.

Saturday, Ralston’s mother came to the house and searched the backyard. A report sets July 23 as the day the mother and child are believed to have disappeared.

Court records show Ralston has an older daughter, 12-year-old Alexis, who lives with her grandmother. The Abbotts said the cul-de-sac they live in is normally quiet and peaceful. On Monday, it was invaded by police and reporters. Stow Municipal Court records show Ralston rented the duplex and was scheduled to vacate the property Aug. 16.

Peyton, they said, is a well-mannered, well-behaved child.

“He was a great kid, cute kid,” Jim Abbott said. “He was always a pleasure to have around.”

Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or ptrexler@thebeaconjournal.com. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PhilTrexler.



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