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Columbia police working to identify two dead amid missing women investigation

missing women
Columbia Police Department
Columbia police shared this flyer showing two missing women, Marcia Hess and Sara Fox.


Columbia police say they're trying to identify two bodies found during an investigation into two missing women.

Officers are also looking for a man, Randall R. Fox, 51, of Columbia, calling him a "person of interest" in the investigation.

Officers were called Saturday to the 1700 block of Ridgemont Drive as part of a missing persons investigation. Police were trying to find Marcia Hess and Sara Fox. They found the two bodies, which are pending identification, a few days later, the Columbia Police Department said in a news release Wednesday.

Police say they died by homicide.

CPD spokeswoman Jenny Hopper said police were approved for a search warrant Tuesday, which is when they found the bodies.

Police say Randall Fox should be considered armed and dangerous.

The Columbia Police Department is looking for Randall Fox, who was described by CPD as a "person of interest" in regards to two women who were reported missing.

"We are actively searching for him. We are encouraging anyone who has any information on his whereabouts to contact 9-1-1. We're also encouraging the community to not approach Russell because he has to be considered armed and dangerous," Hopper said.

Violence like this isn't common for the neighborhood near Stadium Drive and Forum Boulevard. Neighbors said Ridgemont is a safe area where things like this don't normally happen. Neighbor Kate Smith told ABC 17 she saw police collecting evidence Tuesday, and into the middle of the night.

"The cops were there last night until 4 o'clock in the morning collecting evidence," Smith said. "We could only see one body. We smelled the body too."

Hess is described in a post by police as being 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 185 pounds with blue eyes and white hair. Sara Fox is described as being 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

Randall and Sara Fox were married in 2002, according to official records. A neighbor, Katie Smith, said the two later divorced but Randall Fox was still around a lot.

Friends and family of Sara Fox and Marica Hess described them as givers.

"Sara was so giving. Several of us have literally witnessed her give the shirt off her back to a stranger," Marica's niece Vicky Welsh said. "She was kind, she was caring, unconditionally. Both of them were."

"I've gotten a whole lot of messages from people and all you hear is her smile and how she made people happy and she brought life to the world and she learned it all from Marcia," Melissa Roach, a longtime friend of Sara's added.

For Sara, that generosity even extended to her ex-husband, Randall. According to the family, Randall and Sara had been divorced for 13 years. Marcia and Sara were living at Marcia's mother's house on Ridgemont Drive. The family says they allowed Randall to stay there rent-free so he could be with his children. 

"She (Sara Fox) has paid for his hotel rooms so he can have his weekend with the boys. she has used her food stamps so they had food all weekend. he wanders from home to home so this was just one of the places and they trusted him," Welsh said.

Police described Randall Fox as a "person of interest," the family believes he is responsible.

"They are what kindness and love are all about and he had the audacity to take it away from us and he is ugly. He is the epitome of scum," Roach said.

Family members say that Randall has red hair and often goes cleanly shaven, unlike the photo that CPD shared of him with a beard. 

This photo of Randall Fox, 51, is what friends and family members of two missing women say he typically looks like. A family member of Marcia Hess and Sara Fox shared this photo with ABC 17 News after seeing another photo of Randall Fox publicly shared by the Columbia Police Department. [Courtesy Vicky Welsh]

A GoFundMe has been set up for a family member of the women.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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