The following July, a woman was sexually assaulted at Salim's house, according to a report she filed with police a month later, after Ballman's death.
Ballman, 23, was a supply specialist with a National Guard military police unit in Colorado who had just moved back to Ohio after separating from her husband. She had her own apartment east of Columbus and was still trying to buy furniture for her children's bedrooms.
The family reported her missing July 31, telling police about the housecleaning ad. At 3:30 p.m. that day, Deanna Ballman called her mother, Lori Ballman.
"Deanna stated that she felt dizzy and did not feel well. Deanna then stopped talking. Lori stated a male with a foreign accent then got on the phone asking what he could do to help. The call was then lost," according to the missing-person's report.
Lori Ballman also told investigators she heard the sound of a woman's voice in the background speaking another language. Investigators say they've never located this person. O'Brien, the Delaware County prosecutor, says it's not clear how Deanna Ballman's car got to the country road.
Compounding the family's struggle, Ballman's 19-year-old brother, James, died in an accidental shooting in February. Deanna Ballman's children are in foster care in Colorado, her mother said. Ballman was a high school graduate and devoted mother who hoped eventually to go to college to be a dentist, her mother said.
Lori Ballman helped her daughter gather cleaning supplies the day she disappeared, but she believes now that was a cover story for something darker she can't quite bring herself to name.
"That's the only reason I can think she told me she was going housecleaning, because she was humiliated," Ballman said.
Investigators say only that Deanna Ballman answered a personal ad. A cursory review of Craigslist finds Salim was not alone in placing such ads, dozens of which, many of them suggestive, abound for the Columbus area. In one, on May 14, a married man said he was looking for a "discreet relationship." Another, the same day, was seeking "a woman who is pregnant and horny as hell."
Salim's lawyer goes a step farther and bluntly calls Ballman an "unfortunate victim" who died as a result of prostituting herself to feed a drug habit.
"Regrettably, she caused her own demise and Dr. Salim had nothing to do with it," said attorney Sam Shamansky.
The rape charge against Salim alleges he assaulted her knowing her ability to resist "was substantially impaired." Capt. Kevin Savage of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office says there's no evidence Ballman was a drug addict. But, like the prosecutor, he hints that Ballman's reasons for going to Salim's home have yet to come out.
"I don't think she knew she was going to be overdosed with heroin and subsequently die, but I think she knew what she was responding to," Savage said.
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