Murder suspect's arraignment delayed

Cary Ashby • Updated Mar 28, 2018 at 7:25 PM

The mother of a possible murder victim struggled with putting into words seeing one of the co-defendants in court Wednesday morning.

“To see it move forward — that’s the best hope we can have,” said Rosalie Gottwald, of Milan, immediately after the hearing.

Joshua W. Stamm, 36, of Florida, is charged with two counts of murder and one charge of aggravated robbery in connection with the 2003 murder of Michael Sheppard Jr., whose body was never found. Authorities and Gottwald, Sheppard’s mother, have said they believe Sheppard was killed in a drug dispute in Huron County.

Stamm was in Huron County Common Pleas Court for what should have been his arraignment Wednesday. However, the defendant declined to have defense attorney Ken Bailey handle the hearing as a courtesy since Stamm plans to hire his own lawyer and wants that person to oversee the proceeding.

As a result, Stamm’s arraignment was rescheduled for 1 p.m. April 10. 

“I will do a consultation appointment next week,” Stamm told Judge Jim Conway. “The person I would like to speak to is out on vacation. … I’m definitely going to be hiring someone.”

Stamm is serving a three-year prison sentence in Florida for possessing a weapon under a disability and carrying a concealed weapon. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office transported him to the local jail Saturday.

After the hearing, Gottwald said seeing Stamm in court means he’s “finally going to answer for what he did.”

Stamm has two co-defendants — Scott D. Hall, 45, of Castalia, and Adam J. White, 35, of Sandusky. All three men were indicted in May on the same charges — two counts of murder and one charge of aggravated robbery. Each felony carries a three-year firearm specification. That means if convicted, the defendants have to spend three years in prison before any other sentence.

Sheppard, of Perkins Township, was last seen alive in Huron County nearly 15 years ago — May 8, 2003. He was 34 years old at the time. 

The Perkins Township Police Department originally believed his disappearance was a missing person case.

The case languished for years with no arrests and no closure for the family. Over the years, several area law enforcement agencies contributed to the investigation, including the Erie County and Huron County sheriff's offices and the police departments in Huron, Kelleys Island, Norwalk, Perkins Township and Sandusky.

In 2009, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office took over the investigation. Margaret Tomaro represented the state during Wednesday’s hearing. 

There was a seven-day search for Sheppard’s remains at Rattlesnake Creek in 2010. The area is just inside Huron County near the Erie County line. Specialized teams and cadaver dogs were unable to locate Sheppard’s body — which remains missing to this day. After having searched five different locations of water using sonar, the search crew left the Rattlesnake Creek area May 5, 2010.

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