Details of Disappearance
Ernest was last seen at his property in the 7100 block of Lark Road in a remote area of Brown Township, Ohio on December 13, 2006. He disappeared with his adult son, David. They were last heard from when Ernest called a friend and said he was going to go and get physical therapy for his injured rotator cuff. He asked the post office to keep a check for him there. Neither of the men were ever heard from again.
The truck Ernest was driving disappeared with him, as well as David's red 1997 Mercury Tracer with Ohio license plates numbered DD18QL. The Tracer had been borrowed from one of Ernest's friends. A photograph of it is posted with this case summary. David's mother and Ernest's parents reported the missing men on December 15. Authorities went to Ernest's trailer home and found no signs of a break-in and nothing missing.
The day after the Deckers were reported missing, an anonymous telephone caller led police to Ernest's truck in a wooded area near the trailer park where he lived. The driver's side door was unlocked, the keys were in the ignition and various items, including clothing and Ernest's eyeglasses, were located at the scene. Ernest's blood was found on the lens of the eyeglasses.
In October 2008, nearly two years after the Ernest and David disappeared, investigators announced they had a person of interest in their cases. The man was publicly identified as Randy Kedigh in January 2009.
A photo of Kedigh is posted with this case summary. He was renting a trailer from from Ernest and, shortly before the Deckers' disappearances, he paid his rent with a bad check and had an altercation with Ernest as a result. Kedigh has an extensive criminal history dating back to his teens. He has been arrested for robbery, kidnapping, assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and multiple charges of domestic violence.
In 2008, witnesses came forward and said Kedigh drove a small red car, resembling David's borrowed Mercury Tracer, to his sister's house on Robertsville Avenue in Paris Township, Ohio around the time the Deckers disappeared.
He parked the car behind a shed and cut it up with a saw and an electric grinder. Most of the parts were taken to a salvage yard, while the engine and the transmission were scrapped. When investigators searched the shed, they found a hood, two front fenders, two taillights, parts of a headlight assembly, a radiator and a tire jack.
The vehicle identification number (VIN) on the fenders matched the missing Mercury Tracer. Authorities went to Kedigh's home to interview him, and were permitted to search his trailer. They found a crack pipe and marijuana. Kedigh was on probation for an unrelated weapons charge at the time, and for possessing the drugs and drug paraphernalia he was returned to prison to serve a two-year term.
The Deckers have not answered their cellular phones since they went missing; all calls are automatically transferred to voice mail. Ernest never picked up his check, he left a few hundred dollars behind in his bank account, and he and David are not believed to have been carrying much money when they went missing. Both men are described as people who could defend themselves in a fight.
Authorities believe the Deckers were murdered. Their disappearances remain unsolved.