Sister of 2012 murder victim reveals new details in unsolved case

More than 10 years after a 19-year-old was found murdered near a Fairfield creek, the case remains unsolved.
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 10:36 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Ohio (WXIX) - More than 10 years after a 19-year-old was found murdered near a Fairfield creek, the case remains unsolved, prompting the victim’s sister to reveal new information about the case for the very first time.

Cristina Emrick has quietly waited for justice for her brother, Joseph “Joey” Oakley, for at least a decade. Now, after losing more loved ones, including her mother, Emrick is ready to talk about what happened.

Oakley’s August 2012 death came as a shock.

“He was just a great, great loving guy,” Emrick said. “He wanted to travel. He wanted to be a chef. That’s what he wanted to go to school for.”

The 19-year-old had recently graduated from Fairfield Options Academy, according to Emrick, when someone shot him several times with a small handgun.

The bullets were still in Oakley’s body when police say he was found dead by a creek behind the Creekside Village apartment complex in Fairfield.

“They had told us that it was an accident, that he had just fell and his hit head, and he lost a lot of blood, and that’s what he died from,” Emrick said. “It wasn’t until two days later, after the autopsy, that we found out he was shot multiple times in the chest and once point blank in the head execution style.”

Emrick said Oakley was not living at the apartments, so she suspects he was lured there.

Police did not find any weapons at the crime scene.

Emrick said the scene itself appeared to have been staged.

“He was found on the side of the creek bed, leaned up against a tree,” she recalls. “His pockets were turned inside out, and there was an enormous amount of blood. His arms were crossed like he had been posed.”

Detectives started questioning those closest to Oakley, including his girlfriend at the time, but no one has ever been charged for the crime.

Investigators were already familiar with the creek where Oakley was found because they had been there only months earlier for another murder.

In April 2012, 15-year-old Chelsea Johnson was stabbed to death, and her body was discovered in the same area.

[Family of Chelsea Johnson demanding justice 11 years after her murder]

In 2012, Officer Doug Day told FOX19 NOW they did not see a connection between Oakley’s and Johnson’s cases.

“This has been a creek that kids have hung out in ever since I’ve been a police officer here,” Officer Day explained more than a decade ago. “There is a lot of people down in that creek doing who knows what. Unfortunately, I think it’s just circumstance to put these two people in there.”

However, Emrick disagrees and thinks that it is likely there is something tying the two cases together.

“My first thought is they were connected in some way, whether it be through the drugs or gang activity in the Hamilton area or the same person,” Emrick said. “I knew there’s something there between those two.”

Emrick believes drugs could have played a part in Oakley’s murder because he was struggling with addiction at the time of his death. He had found his father dead in February 2012, and the tragedy took a toll on his mental health.

“You never know what someone’s going through to make them turn to drugs, and just because he did doesn’t mean he’s a bad person,” she said.

At one point, Emrick thought an arrest could be on the horizon.

“There was a person of interest,” she explained. “I don’t remember his name exactly. I know he was from Cincinnati. I know he had mental issues, and there was a gun found in his attic.”

Testing showed the gun was not the one used to kill Oakley, Emrick said, which felt like another blow.

She said she had not heard any updates since then and had not spoken to investigators in years.

For now, she plans to continue keeping Oakley in her heart, on her mind, and always in her memories. She even got a tattoo in his honor.

“I think if it was ever solved that I could finally close that chapter and move on,” Emrick said.

Fairfield Police declined to do an interview or share any updates related to Oakley’s case.

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