One man ended up dead in a shallow grave in Noble County and another narrowly avoided the same fate after apparently responding to an online ad for work on a cattle farm.
Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum said Thursday two suspects are in custody and his office and the FBI are investigating a pair of shootings. A South Carolina man reportedly was shot in the arm after fleeing from the suspects nearly two weeks ago, while the body of another man was found earlier this week.
UPDATE: The Akron Beacon-Journal identified the two as a 16-year-old student from Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow and a 52-year-old Akron man.
The adult is being held in the Summit County Jail on $1 million bond, the newspaper said. His attorney could not be reached for comment. No further information was available about the juvenile.
An autopsy was being performed Thursday on the body, which has not been positively identified, Hannum said. However, authorities believe the man may be a Florida resident last seen Oct. 22 in Parkersburg.
The identities of the suspects and the victims have not been released.
At a glance
Two men were arrested this week in Summit County in connection with the fatal killing of one man and the shooting of another in Noble County.
The victims apparently responded to a Craigslist ad seeking someone to look after cattle on a Noble County farm.
The victim who was wounded, a South Carolina man, reportedly had breakfast with the suspects in Marietta the day of the shooting.
A Flordia man who police think might be the other victim was last seen Oct. 22 in Parkersburg.
The names of the suspects and victims have not been released at this time.
"Both subjects are in custody. One of them is in custody on other charges for other incidents and probably very soon he will be charged in this crime," Hannum said.
The second suspect has been charged with attempted murder and accessory to attempted murder in this incident, the sheriff said.
Hannum said the men, neither of whom is a resident of Noble County, were arrested in Summit County based on information obtained during the course of the investigation, from the execution of search warrants and information gleaned from computers by FBI technicians. Potential charges could include kidnapping, murder and theft.
The motive was apparently robbery, with Hannum saying the individuals posting the ad on the website Craigslist.org told job-seekers to bring their vehicles and belongings with them, but not a girlfriend or anyone else.
The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests could be forthcoming.
"There's a possibility that there's other players in this that just haven't surfaced yet," Hannum said.
The South Carolina man was shot near Don Warner Road off Ohio 260 in Stock Township, about 10 miles from Caldwell. The body of the other man was found nearby, according to a release from the sheriff's office.
Fulda resident Donna Kress, who lives less than four miles from the crime scene, said she keeps her doors locked as a general rule, but she's been thinking about additional measures in light of recent events.
"I told my husband, 'I think we need to load a gun,'" she said.
Kress, 57, said rumors have been flying around the area, including that the bodies of multiple other missing persons who answered Craigslist ads are hidden in the area.
Hannum said he doesn't believe there are any additional victims.
"I'm hopeful that that's the case, and I have no information to indicate otherwise," he said.
Kress said this isn't the kind of thing she expects to happen in rural Ohio.
"Then again, Dillon wasn't either," she said, referring to the case of Thomas Lee Dillon, a serial killer who killed five outdoorsmen in southeast Ohio, including a Williamstown resident fishing in Noble County.
According to Hannum, the South Carolina man met the suspects for breakfast in Marietta on Nov. 6. Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite said city officers gathered evidence in the investigation, including surveillance video from a local restaurant, but he declined to release any other details.
After breakfast, they drove to Caldwell, where the man parked his vehicle and got into the suspects' automobile. They drove to Don Warner Road, where the victim was told they would have to walk the rest of the way because the road was closed due to a landslide.
As he began to walk with one of the suspects through a heavily wooded area, the victim reportedly heard a gun being cocked and turned to see one pointed at his head. He deflected the gun and ran, with the suspect firing at him, striking him once in the arm.
Hannum's statement said the victim hid in the woods for the next seven hours before making his way to a home on Rado Ridge Road in Enoch Township.
Kress said the residence was two houses down from her own.
"That guy had a long walk back in," she said.
Hannum said the wounded man had surgery and is recovering, but he declined to say where he is, citing concerns for his safety.
A Boston woman contacted the Noble County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 11 after seeing media coverage of the shooting incident. The sheriff's release says she reported her twin brother, a Florida resident, had been missing since Oct. 22 after responding to what she believed was the same Craigslist ad. He was last seen in Parkersburg.
Investigators returned to the Don Warner Road crime scene and discovered an empty, hand-dug shallow grave, according to the release.
On Monday, sheriff's deputies returned to the scene with agents of the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, as well as cadaver dogs. The next afternoon, they found the body of a white male buried in a shallow grave, the release says.
The U.S. attorney's office in Columbus is monitoring the investigation, said spokesman Fred Alverson.
"Because of the interstate nature of this crime, the sheriff and the FBI have approached us to ... determine whether or not federal laws have been broken," he said. "They've done a great job investigating this in such a short period of time. ... The FBI agents over there are working shovel-to-shovel and shoulder-to-shoulder with the folks in Noble County."
In the release, Hannum pointed out multiple other local, state and federal agencies assisting in the investigation, including the Akron Police Department, the state attorney general and sheriff's offices from Geauga, Muskingum and Tuscarawas counties.
The Craigslist website, which features free classified ads for housing, jobs, personal announcements, items for sale and services, among other things, has been blamed for a number of deaths, including that of a New York City masseuse who authorities say was killed in 2009 by a Boston medical student she met through the site.
More recently, in September, the last of four defendants was sentenced in the 2010 killing of a Tacoma, Wash.-area man in a home robbery during which the group pretended to be interested in a diamond ring advertised on Craigslist.
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has urged people to take precautions when using the site.
It's been devastating to see that it can also be used by bad people to take cruel advantage of others," he said in 2009 at a ceremony honoring a Minnesota woman who died.
after responding to a phony ad for a baby sitter.