"Pearl Lady" identified; husband charged with lying to police in - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

"Pearl Lady" identified; husband charged with lying to police investigating her 2006 death

Barbara Precht (Photos provided) Barbara Precht (Photos provided)
James Precht (Provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office) James Precht (Provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The husband of a woman whose body was found in the Ohio River eight years ago but whose identity eluded authorities until earlier this month is accused of lying to police investigating her death.

"They fingerprinted her and tried to identify her through fingerprints. For a number of years they tried various different methods to try to identify her and were unsuccessful in that," said Hamilton County Sheriff's Detective Brian Williams.

After running the fingerprints through an FBI database Hamilton County Sheriff's Detective Williams says they finally found out who the woman was.

"It surfaced that there was an arrest from Covina, California for a Barbara Hess Precht," said Detective Williams.

Back in the 1980's Barbara Precht, 69, was arrested for shoplifting and her husband James, who was located last night through an anonymous tip, tells detectives the family was going through tough times to the point of having to leave their two daughters at an orphanage. 

Fast forward to November 2006 and detectives are still puzzled.

"I know I have two children, I have a husband where are they and why is it that nobody's looking for them," said Detective Williams.

James Precht, 79, is held at the Hamilton County jail on charges of falsification and obstructing official business. His bond was set at $15,000.

According to court records, Precht refused to give detectives his name when they tried to talk to him at his Corryville residence Thursday.

Officials say that Precht is talking to investigators, but he's been elusive about what happened to his wife.

"We are trying to figure out what exactly happened and why she ended up in the river and finding the husband....was he with her when this happened or were they separated, I mean, why hadn't he reported her," said Detective Williams.

Her body was found in the Ohio River in 2006, and one of the few clues authorities had to release to the public as they tried to identify her was the pearl necklace she wore.

Barbara Precht was positively identified on Nov. 5, the Hamilton County Coroner's Office said Friday. The cause of death is not being released due to the ongoing investigation.

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