Transparent investigations important to families

Family members want and deserve answers from law enforcement when tragedy strikes a relative. They need that information to process what has happened, and sometimes to find closure.

The information family members seek should be shared as quickly as possible, so they are informed every step of the way.

Unfortunately, that has not happened for one local family.

The body of Nicolle R. Olmstead, 33, of Columbus, was discovered Aug. 1 in a Shelby County farm field off Interstate 65 near the State Road 252 overpass.

That was about a month after she was reported missing. It took another month after Olmstead’s body was found for her to be identified.

From the time of discovery and identification, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department has said very little, stating that they were not releasing details because they do not wish to reveal anything only the suspect might know. Shelby County investigators declined to reveal Olmstead’s manner of death and the exact location she was discovered when she was identified.

It’s understandable that keeping some details under wraps is important to an investigation, but to not even acknowledge to the family that she was murdered is wrong.

Olmstead’s ex-husband only learned of the manner of death when he received a death certificate from Shelby County so that he could apply for benefits for one of her children.

The death certificate stated that her death was a homicide and that she died of blunt force trauma with bilateral arm fractures.

That’s information that appears on a public document, the death certificate. There should be no reason to hold back that information.

Transparency with public agencies is important for building trust with residents. It should be even more important when law enforcement is trying to help a family that has suffered a tragedy.

However, Olmstead’s family has said Shelby County investigators have kept them in the dark. That’s not right, and only adds to the pain family members feel.

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Have a tip?

Anyone with information abut the death of Nicolle R. Olmstead to contact Detective Sgt. Darren Chandler at 317-392-6412 or Detective LaShawn Tyler at 812-376-2661. Anonymous tips can be placed through the Shelby County Prosecutors TIP Line at 317-398-2255.