City files murder charge

A Marietta man was charged with murder Thursday in the April 2 beating and stabbing death of a 68-year-old man, the first murder in the city in five years.

Ira D. Blair Jr., 28, will appear in court for an arraignment at 8 a.m. today on murder charges. Blair lived at the 139 Groves Ave. trailer where Frank B. Stephens, 68, of 1001 Gilman Ave., was found dead on the living room floor in April.

He had been beaten and stabbed according to a press release sent out Wednesday by the Marietta Police Department.

“The victim suffered blunt and sharp force trauma to the head and neck, (and) blunt force trauma to the chest, abdomen and extremities,” said the report, citing an autopsy performed by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Marietta Police Detective Sgt. Greg Nohe would not say who called in to report Stephens’ body, but added that police were not alerted by Blair, who was already in custody that morning for a separate crime.

Hours before responding to the Groves Avenue scene, police arrested a blood-soaked Blair on a fourth-degree felony burglary charge after he was found asleep and bleeding onto pillows in an upstairs room at 423 Third St. by David Martin, the building’s owner.

Blair had injuries to his face and hands, which were “red, swollen, and bruised,” according to the report.

The Marietta Police Department had been waiting on the complete autopsy report and forensic evidence collected and analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation before making a charge in the case, said Nohe.

Forensic evidence revealed that not all of the blood found on Blair was his own. The victim’s blood was also found on Blair.

He was charged Thursday at the Washington County Jail where he is currently awaiting trial on the burglary charge.

Police have not yet established a motive for the murder, said Nohe.

“We don’t know if there was an argument or not, but obviously something happened to trigger this event,” he said.

Police do know the two men were not alone. The home’s primary resident, Richard Haught Jr., 53, was also present.

Haught and Stephens were friends, said Nohe.

Haught has an attorney and has not provided much detail about what transpired, he added.

Blair admitted to being in the home with Stephens and Haught, but not to the murder, said Nohe.

A family member of Stephens said Thursday the family was aware of the charge but did not wish to comment on the case.

A Groves Avenue neighbor said he was glad to hear that someone had been arrested.

“I’m happy for the old man that it’s resolved,” said 48-year-old Jeff Harris.

Harris said he initially thought the crime scene tape surrounding the trailer that day was because of a drug raid, but was even more shocked to learn it was a murder.

Still, Harris said he and his family feel perfectly safe in their typically quiet neighborhood.

“I feel like it was an isolated incident,” he said.

The case could possibly result in more charges, said Nohe.

The last person to be charged for a murder inside the city of Marietta was Landon Evans, who was charged in January 2010 for the June 2008 murder of his newborn daughter. Landon is currently serving a 24 year prison sentence for the crime.

Police are currently investigating the recent death of an 80-year-old woman as a possible murder. Police believe Billie Runnion’s May 4 death might have been the result of severe injuries she sustained during a March burglary and beating at her 914 Emerson Ave. home.

Police are waiting on a complete autopsy report in that case, said Nohe.

The murder charge against Blair is an unscheduled felony and carries an indefinite penalty of 15 years to life in prison, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.