MOUNT VERNON — Dental records are being used to positively identify the body of a man found in a septic tank on Newcastle Road on Wednesday.
Knox County Coroner Jennifer Ogle told the News in an e-mail that the dental records of Raymond Staats were released to her on Monday.
“I am optimistic that the dental records will provide an identification, and the longer path of using DNA will not be necessary,” Ogle said.
Staats has been missing from Stark County since Jan. 9, 2009. He was last seen leaving Canton to come to Mount Vernon, according to his longtime friend Mary Serafini who reported him missing.
When contacted by the News, Serafini would say little more than she was certain the body found was that of Staats.
Dayna Legg, a friend of Staats contacted the News on Monday with concern that Staats’ criminal past would overshadow his good-natured character.
“He helped me with my kids a lot,” Legg said. “He would put bunk beds together. He would help me with my kid’s cars. He was Johnny-on-the-spot. He was a good friend to me. He would have given me the shirt off his back if I asked for it.”
Legg said she has always been hopeful that Staats was simply in hiding.
“I was hoping he was just hiding,” Legg said. “I always had a gut feeling, though, as to why wouldn’t he call and just say he was OK?”
Legg said part of her hopes that the body will not be that of Staats, but the idea of having to start the whole process again is unsettling for her.
“I just don’t want people to think he was only shady and that he’s not going to be missed,” she said. “He was shady but he is missed by many. People have bad sides but they do have good sides, too.”