“Relief.”

That’s what Nancy Eagleson’s family felt when a motion to exhume her body was approved today by Judge Michael Wehrkamp in Paulding County Probate Court. The family hopes finding DNA evidence would help solve her 62-year-old murder.

“It’s been a long journey. It’s really sad, mixed emotions, but happy he said yes,” Eagleson’s younger sister Merrill Miller said. “We’ve been wanting to get this since 1985 when DNA evidence was available.”

Sheryl Garza, Eagleson’s younger sister who was with her at the time of Nancy’s abduction, added, “When April Tinsley’s case was solved over in Fort Wayne [a thirty-year old-cold case solved in 2021], I went to the sheriff and said, ‘Look this case is solvable. All we have to do is find DNA.’ Now, since all crucial evidence was lost, then the only way to find DNA was to possibly exhume the remains.”

Under Wehrkamp’s ruling, the family has 75 days to exhume the remains. Once the remains are reinterred, notice must be filed with the court within 30 days alerting it of such.

Wehrkamp told the family, “My prayer for you today is that you will find healing and peace through this process . . . and in the days ahead.”

The family is working with the The Porchlight Project, a non-profit that offers support for families of the missing and murdered. The group also specializes in funding new DNA tests for Ohio cold cases.

Its founder and president James Renner was in court and testified on what might come next. “I would work with Den Herder [Funeral Home] and the lab in Michigan to set up a date that works for both of them for the disinterment.” He added that he would like to have someone from the forensics lab at the exhumation to ensure that there are workable remains.

If it looks like there are workable remains, they would be shipped to a forensic lab at Western Michigan University to determine if there is any DNA.

“If they’re able to find DNA, then we might contract with a different lab to do the testing and get the DNA profile and specific markers that we can compare in public databases for a potential match.”

Jack Den Herder represented the Live Oak Cemetery as an interested party in the case. The principle concern he had was how to protect the privacy of the family. He testified, “I’m a little concerned about social media. There are pros and cons to it. But this is a private matter. This is a public cemetery. How are you going to keep John Q Public from being at the cemetery?”

Wehrkamp acknowledged the concern but said that particular issue was outside the jurisdiction of the court, and privacy issues would need to be coordinated with the village and local law enforcement.

After the hearing, Jeanne Windsor, an advocate for the family, talked about her memory of the case. “When this occurred, I was in second grade, but I very well remember what it did to this town. Nobody ever locked their doors. Nobody was scared. We were just a small innocent town.

“And after that, everything changed. Everybody locked their doors. I remember one evening my dad showed my mom how to load and shoot the shotgun. And that made a big impression on me.”

“We just want to thank everyone for all the support and prayers for us today. For all the donations to help us get here to get this done,” said Garza.