Witness: Suspect set out to rob someone

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:54 PM

The first thing April Spain did after the robbers left her rural Greenwich mobile home was check on her son. The 2-month-old boy had slept through the entire violent encounter.

One of Spain's suspected attackers, Jeremy Holmberg, 27, of 2714 Center St., New London, was indicted June 22 on two counts each of felonious assault and kidnapping in connection with the March 18 incident. He also is charged with one count each of aggravated burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery.

Before the home invasion, New London resident Jamie Schaffer said Holmberg mentioned he wanted to do a "lick," meaning he planned on "robbing somebody, most likely."

"He mentioned several places he wanted to do (like gas stations), but that was it," said Schaffer, who pointed out Brandon Taft's truck to Holmberg while driving around one day.

Spain testified she was in bed asleep when she heard her fianc, Taft, yell from the living room when several suspects forced their way into their home and assaulted Taft.

He testified Tuesday he fought back, but wasn't sure where his punches landed.

"The next thing I know someone was coming at me with a ski mask on," said Spain, who was dragged out of bed and forced to crawl on her knees.

The intruders taped the couple's hands and feet together and put coats over their faces.

Spain said she could hear the suspects rummaging through various drawers and "the thump of the hammer" as they hit Taft, demanding to know where money and marijuana were.

Spain said he'd never heard any of the men's voices before, but they sounded as if they were in their late 20s to early 30s. Taft said one of them sounded distinctly like Holmberg. Both men grew up in New London.

The suspects are accused of stealing between $600 and $700 in cash as well as all of Spain's jewelry.

"They told me they'd leave a knife to set myself free," Spain said. "It took about a minute to set myself free. ... It took me awhile to get (Taft free)."

After checking on her son, the Greenwich woman said she checked on Taft, who looked "horrible" after the beating. Finally, she called Taft's mother, who lives "about three minutes away, if that," and she called 9-1-1.

"I didn't even think to (call 9-1-1). I didn't know what to do," Spain said.

Holmberg has been in custody at the Huron County Jail since May 30, unable to post a $100,000 bond.

The investigation

Huron County Sheriff's Capt. Bob McLaughlin was one of five deputies who responded to the rural Greenwich crime scene.

"There was blood on the floor," he said. "There was a heck of a fight there."

Five days after the incident, McLaughlin went to Galion resident Tammy Bolyard's home because he said investigators learned her daughters had Spain's purse and three pieces of her jewelry.

Both girls, 14, and 15, testified that Holmberg, who stayed at their home about a week, gave them the items, but didn't say why he was doing it.

About 24 hours before McLaughlin arrived with a Galion police officer, Bolyard said she sent Holmberg and his half-brother "on their way (because) they were eating me out of house and home." Both Spain and the woman's daughters separately identified the stolen items as the ones in question.

Detective Sgt. Dane Howard, the main investigator in the case, said he learned Holmberg "may have been a suspect in the case" after speaking to several people in New London, Holmberg's home town.

Howard came to Schaffer's driveway March 23 after talking to him by telephone. Both men said Holmberg happened to pull in later, about 50 or 60 feet away from Howard's truck.

Schaffer greeted the detective quickly before speaking to Holmberg, still in his vehicle.

"I told (Holmberg) the detectives were looking for him and get out of my driveway," said Schaffer, who earlier had learned Holmberg was a suspect. "I didn't want no trouble in my driveway."

Schaffer immediately returned to Howard in his truck, saying the man in the vehicle behind him was Holmberg.

"I looked in the rear view mirror. Mr. Holmberg was waving bye-bye at me and there was a chase," Howard said.

Holmberg was arrested after he crashed on New London Eastern Road, went to prison for an unrelated Erie County offense and then was transferred back to the county jail, Howard said.

After Wednesday's hearing, the detective said there "absolutely" is an ongoing investigation into Holmberg's accomplices. Howard said he has been "working closely" with Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler on the case.

"It's all in BCI&I's hands," he said, referring to the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation.

The agency analyzed blood on: Holmberg's boots; Taft's jacket that was put over his head; the duct tape used on both victims; and the knife Spain used to free herself and Taft and parts of the blood-stained floor. Leffler was expected to wrap up his case this morning with the testimony of a BCI&I official.

Recommended for You