“We were kind of shocked after the sentence,” said Gottwald, the mother of Michael Sheppard Jr., who reportedly was killed nearly 15 years ago during a drug deal gone bad.
Sheppard’s body still has not been found. The Perkins Township man was last seen alive May 8, 2003 in Huron County. He was 34 years old at the time.
Stamm, 37, of Florida, was sentenced Oct. 22 to three years in prison. Earlier in the same Huron County Common Pleas Court hearing, he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, which carries a punishment of up to 11 years. Stamm had been facing two counts of murder.
His three-year sentence was recommended by the state — specificially, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office — and Stamm’s attorneys. He will serve it at the same time as the term for a weapon-related conviction. Authorities returned Stamm to a Florida prison, where he is serving three years for carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a weapon under disability.
“He didn’t really get anything out of it,” said Gottwald, who doesn’t believe Stamm’s sentence was long enough.
The co-defendants are Scott D. Hall, 46, of Clyde, and Adam J. White, 36, of Sandusky. Their jury trials are scheduled for March 5. Court records indicate White has posted a $500,000 bond while Hall is on electronically-monitored house arrest. Hall signed a personal recognizance bond, meaning he promised to appear for future hearings without paying any money.
“Because the prosecution against the two remaining defendants is still pending, I am very limited in what I can say about the investigation and any evidence in this case,” said Jill Del Greco, spokeswoman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), a division of the attorney general’s office.
Three days after Stamm’s conviction and sentence, Oct. 25, authorities were digging in the area of Fox Lane — a private road located off U.S. 250 between Norwalk and Milan, just south of the Erie County line. The Norwalk Reflector witnessed a BCI team using a small excavator to dig up an area covering about 60 yards in a ravine off Fox Lane.
“They are still waiting for some DNA results, but not from the dig,” Gottwald said Friday when asked about the excavation work.
“No one believes he (Sheppard) was even buried there. The experts don’t believe he was buried there and the family doesn’t believe he was buried there.”
The victim’s mother declined to elaborate, but said she doesn’t believe authorities found anything.
Huron County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Stanfield was one of seven people spotted in the search area Oct. 25. Lt. Bill Duncan, in a separate interview, said the sheriff’s office was “providing one deputy as needed to maintain the scene.”
“The search continues. We are trying to get the victim back to his mother,” Stanfield said at the time.
Del Greco earlier said she couldn’t discuss “what we’re doing now” on Fox Lane, but noted the attorney general’s office was working on the Sheppard case “all week.” The BCI spokeswoman also said the recent activity was connected to “what happened in court.”
As part of his plea deal, Stamm provided information on what occurred on the night of Sheppard’s death. He reportedly told authorities Sheppard was shot multiple times during an attempted marijuana sale and his body was buried in the Fox Lane area.