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Teen charged in 2 homicides

TNS Regional News • May 19, 2013 at 8:32 PM

The first police officer on the scene of last week’s double homicide in Putnam County saw blood throughout the mobile home and followed its trail through a hallway and into a bedroom, and then to the back door, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

After responding to the call for help from resident Michelle Grothause that her two sons and a third boy were missing, Officer Jason Kottenbrock of the Ottawa Police Department said he followed the bloody trail on the floor from the front door into one of the bedrooms, where he found two single beds — one of which had “blood on it towards the upper part of the bed,” according to the affidavit filed on the day of the murders.

Details of the scene are emerging as Michael Aaron Fay, 17, was charged in Putnam County Juvenile Court with two counts of delinquency in connection with aggravated murder in the deaths of Ms. Grothause’s sons — Blake Aaron Romes, 17, and Blaine Romes, 14.

With the aggravated murder counts, the county prosecutor’s office asked Judge Michael Borer for a hearing in juvenile court to have the case transferred to the docket in Putnam County Common Pleas Court, where the teenager can be tried as an adult.

The complaint alleges that Michael Aaron Fay committed the killings “purposely” and with “prior calculation and design” in the trailer on North Perry Street. Authorities have not released a motive.

An arraignment is scheduled Tuesday before Judge Borer to allow the teenager to enter a plea to the new charges.

He pleaded not guilty last week to felony grand theft on charges of allegedly taking Ms. Grothause’s vehicle from the trailer after the murders.

Attorney William Kluge, who was appointed by Judge Borer to represent the youth on the grand theft charge, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The bodies of Blaine and Blake Romes were found about 5:30 p.m. May 9, nearly 12 hours after the county sheriff’s office took Ms. Grothause’s telephone call reporting the boys missing after she walked into the home and found bloodstains and a gun on the floor.

The Fay youth gave statements that led to the locations of the victims after he was arrested in Columbus.

Ms. Grothause told police she left work about 5 a.m. and went home after failing to reach Blaine on his cell phone. She said she wanted to talk to him before he left on a trip with his eighth-grade classmates to Washington.

Prosecutor Gary Lammers said both teens suffered a single gunshot wound each, and that one of the boys was strangled. He refused to elaborate on the injuries other than to say that each teen “was shot once in a very critical area of their bodies.”

“Because of the sensitivity of the case, I don’t want to get so many facts out that a potential jury could be contaminated,” he said.

Judge Borer has not set a date for the hearing on the prosecutor’s request to have Michael Aaron Fay tried as an adult. Mr. Lammers said he expects the proceeding to take place in June.

The Fay youth allegedly hid the body of Blake in a crawl space under the home, concealing it from view behind the trailer skirt, and put the body of his brother in a ditch on County Road 7, just south of County Road J6, about a mile east of Ottawa, the prosecutor said.

Blake’s body was found not too far from the back entry on the west side of the mobile home, an entry at which the investigating police officer stopped after he followed a trail of blood from the bedroom.

A strap, or what the officer also described as a “dog tie,” and trash bag containing bloody items were found near the victim under the trailer, the municipal court document said.

In the officer’s sworn statement, he said while looking out, he saw tire tracks and reported “it appeared as if something was drug through the grass.” The tire tracks led away from the mobile home trailer, the officer said in his statement, and Ms. Grothause told him that her 2006 Chevrolet HHR was missing.

At that point, officials believed that all three teens had been kidnapped and “one or more may be injured,” so schools and medical centers were contacted, but no one reported seeing any of them.

An Amber Alert was issued shortly after 11 a.m. and Michael Aaron Fay was found about three hours later in the missing vehicle at a Marathon station on East Broad Street in Columbus.

During the initial search of the mobile home, Victoria Fay, the mother of the suspect, identified the 22-caliber Browning found on a couch as belonging to her and said that she, the Fay youth, and a second son, Kyle Nichols, 19, who does not live at the mobile home, were the only ones who had access to the weapon.

Victoria Fay and the suspect lived in the home with the Romes brothers and their mother.

The document said a magazine containing three rounds was found nearby on the floor of the mobile home and an empty bullet casing was in the trash can in a bedroom.

The affidavit and the inventory of items taken from the home were filed Monday in Ottawa Municipal Court and sealed by Judge Chad Niese at the request of prosecutors. Judge Niese unsealed the documents Friday.

Among the evidence seized in the search were cell phones, blood-stained clothing and bedding, handcuffs, and belts.

Mr. Lammers said he doesn’t know who owns the gun, and information on its registration has not been given to his office.

When reached at his home near Miller City in Putnam County, Mr. Nichols would not comment.

Darrin Verhoff, the father of Mr. Nichols’ roommate, said Mr. Nichols was a close friend to both Blaine and Blake and is mourning their deaths.

“They were like brothers,” he said, adding that Mr. Nichols, a senior, attended high school with Blake.

The decision on filing aggravated murder charges was reached after a meeting Wednesday with Ottawa police and state crime investigators, and upon reviewing the case file and autopsy findings, including the county coroner’s ruling that the deaths were homicides, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Lammers said he has talked to the victims’ mother, offering his condolences, but didn’t meet with her personally after the charges were filed in juvenile court. He said a representative of his office who works in the crime victims program made her aware of the filing.

“We really wanted to get the family through this first week without being too intrusive. This is a horrible situation. This is a nightmare for them that will not go away anytime soon because of the criminal prosecution. We want to do this in as an appropriate way as possible,” he said.


By Mark Reiter - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

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