An alleged deathbed confession two years ago from the father of murder suspect Mark Stevens was apparently not enough to sway investigators away from the case, according to Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
Stevens, 48, of 285 Bells Run Road in Newport Township, was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge in the shooting death of his neighbor, Patrick Arnold, four years ago.
He was also charged with one third-degree felony count for tampering with evidence for allegedly disposing of the murder weapon, which has not been found.
Schneider said Thursday that the suspect's mother, Carol Stevens, told investigators in the fall of 2010 that Mark's father had confessed to Arnold's murder on his deathbed.
"She told us this just after his father had died," Schneider said, adding that no one other than Mrs. Stevens had heard the alleged confession.
Schneider said investigators assumed the mother was trying to protect her son.
"Mark Stevens was always a person of interest in this case," he said.
Stevens was among eight people indicted by a Washington County grand jury Wednesday afternoon.
The indictments also included Daron Voshel, 35, of 2626 Barth Road, Belpre, charged with two second-degree and two fifth-degree felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.
Schneider said Voshel was arrested June 8 by Marietta Police on charges he possessed illegal photographs of two nude boys on his laptop computer.
During a hearing Thursday morning, a $30,000 bond was set for Voshel and he was ordered to have no contact with minors. He is scheduled for arraignment today before Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane.
Other indictments include:
Franklin A. D. Frye, 57, of 4250 State Route 307 West, Lot 72, Genea, Ohio, was indicted on one fifth-degree felony count of possession of cocaine, and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of methamphetamine.
Schneider said Frye was stopped Nov. 18, 2011, on the Putnam Street Bridge in Marietta by a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol whose cruiser nearly collided with a vehicle driven by Frye.
Frye was arrested for driving drunk, but cocaine and methamphetamine were later found on his person.
Jose T. Rentas III, 25, of 842 Dayton St., Apt. 1, Akron, was indicted on one fifth-degree felony count of possession of cocaine.
Schneider said Rentas was stopped for a traffic violation along I-77 by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper in May of this year and was found to be in possession of a small amount of cocaine.
Carrie A. Hanning, 31, and Michael A. Hanning, 33, both of 1985 Main St., Stockport, were indicted on one second-degree felony count each of possession of heroin, and one second-degree felony count each of trafficking in heroin.
Schneider said the Hannings were traveling on I-77 with their two children in the backseat on Dec. 22, 2011, when an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper pulled their vehicle over at milepost 10 after discovering a warrant had been issued in Morgan County for Michael Hanning's arrest.
"A drug dog alerted at the vehicle, but a search revealed nothing," Schneider said.
Later a search of Carrie Hanning revealed she had hidden a large quantity of heroin-11.5 grams-in a body cavity. Schneider said the drug had an estimated local street value of $5,500.
Christopher L. Wyckoff, 26, of Lot 80, Blue Grass Village, Morgantown, W.Va., was indicted on a third-degree felony count of possession of a deadly weapon in a detention facility.
Schneider said Wyckoff, an inmate transferred from West Virginia to the Washington County Jail on a federal burglary charge, had fashioned a knife-like object out of a toothbrush handle and had written notes leading authorities to believe he may have planning to escape from the facility.
The toothbrush handle was discovered in Wyckoff's underwear.
Matthew D. Whitstine, 20, no address given, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of possession of a deadly weapon in a detention facility.
Schneider said Whitstine had also fashioned a knife-like object from his toothbrush, and could have been attempting to "copycat" Wyckoff's actions. But he said Whitstine's toothbrush handle was left in plain view of jail officials.