Billboards look for tips to solve Lincoln Park arson

Frustrated by a lack of quality leads in last fall’s arson that killed ten people of Mexican descent, community and business leaders have put up 10 billboards asking for tips.

Ten billboards spread across the west side of Columbus send a clear message: Police are looking for information. There is a $57,000 reward, and tipsters can remain anonymous.

Five of the bill boards are in Spanish, five are in English.

The billboards also feature a child like painting of three children – symbols of the three children who died in the September 12th fire at Lincoln Park west apartments that also killed 7 adults.

The bill boards are sponsored by Hadocy Pontiac and clear channel communications. The anonymous tips go to the group Crime Stoppers which is headed by Kevin Miles who says the most frustrating thing is they know there is someone out there who knows what happened, but has not come forward with information.

Frustrating investigators is a cultural barrier between them and Hispanics living in west Columbus. Many of the immigrants are transient workers, and some with information may have moved away. There’s the language barrier and even more hindering is the worry that illegal immigrants will be deported if they come forward to police. Investigators maintain they will not ask about immigration status.

The head of the Ohio Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs, Ezra Escodero, hopes the billboards which ask for anonymous tips, will overcome that barrier. But he’s not overly optimistic. The trail gets colder by the day, he says.

The key message on the billboards is easily understood in any language – the 57-thousand dollar reward for information. It’s an incentive investigators leads to an arrest.