AVA — An emergency responder who hanged himself in jail after being charged with a 2-year-old murder is believed to have been involved in three similar slayings in two other states, authorities said.
Christopher E. Revak, 36, of Ava, killed himself in the Douglas County Jail on July 26, the day after he was charged with second-degree murder for the March 2007 slaying of Rene Williams after she locked up the Eagles Lodge near Ava, where she was a bartender.
Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase said one of his priorities when he took office in January was to find out what happened to Williams, a mother of three from nearby Mansfield who was 36 when she disappeared. Her body has never been found.
"I took an unconventional approach, and there were lots of obstacles before things came together," said Degase, a 36-year-old who grew up in Ava before moving to New Mexico and working for that state's Water Patrol.
After Revak hanged himself, Degase decided to do some more digging. That's when he found three unsolved killings in two different states that were strikingly similar to the one in Ava.
Degase has been in contact with agencies in both states — which he declined to identify because of ongoing investigations — and has placed Revak in one of the states at the time of one abduction and slaying. Degase said there's a "very high probability" Revak was involved in two additional killings.
Officials said Revak moved to southwest Missouri in 2000 and was a volunteer firefighter in Strafford from 2001 to 2003. After that, he worked as an EMT for the Taney County Ambulance District for six years, said ambulance director Jeff Hawkins.
"He was a good worker for us," Hawkins said. "He never gave us any indication there were any problems. He was reliable and we didn't have any problems with him. This was a big surprise."
But Degase found a different side to Revak.
"I started looking at ways he had covered things up, the extent he went to hide things," Degase said. "It was obvious he was leading a double second life, and I became aware that this might not be his first time at this."
Degase said the Williams murder case should be closed soon. He said he's looking into seeking a coroner's inquiry so that Williams can be officially declared dead.
"It's been a wild case that took a lot of bizarre twists and turns," Degase said. "Every piece of evidence turned up, every rock turned over, found something else. And we're still looking for the remains of our victim."
That search might have to wait until the fall, when thick undergrowth at an 80-acre farm field where officials believe her body is buried thins out.
"For 14 days straight I was there, digging, walking, using dogs," Degase said. "I still feel confident that we'll find her, but we're looking for a grave 2 1/2 years old on a farm that's been overgrown for 25."