A Tiffin-area man pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder in the November shooting deaths of two people at the Carey Conservation Sportsman Association.
Richard L. Clark, Jr., 65, entered a guilty plea Monday in Wyandot County Common Pleas Courts to two counts of aggravated murder with gun specifications in the deaths of Roger Fredritz, 49, of rural Carey and Cynthia Hawkinberry, 49, of rural Tiffin. Ms. Hawkinberry was Clark’s former fiancee.
As part of the plea, the state dismissed three counts, including felony murder, kidnapping, and felonious assault.
Wyandot Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Miller said the assault charge involved a bystander who was “nicked by some debris” during the incident, and was dismissed with that victim’s consent.
Each aggravated-murder count carries a possible sentence of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving 20, 25, or 30 years, or life imprisonment without parole. The gun specification adds three years to each count. Sentences may be imposed consecutively.
Clark is to be sentenced May 7 and remained in the Crawford County jail Tuesday.
Jealousy may have motivated the shootings, said a couple of people who knew the victims.
Ms. Hawkinberry recently broke up with former fiance Mr. Clark after a multiyear relationship and moved out, said Tim Carn, owner of Carn Fertilizer and Grain. Ms. Hawkinberry had worked for Mr. Carn as a secretary for about a year and a half.
“She just left, and her stuff was still at the house,” he said. “She was kind of hesitant about going back [to get her things].”
Mr. Carn said Mr. Clark stopped by the workplace to see Ms. Hawkinberry when the two were still together. Mr. Carn said the suspect ignored him completely and seemed to keep a close eye on Ms. Hawkinberry.
“I knew that his jealousy was really upsetting … her,” Mr. Carn said. “You could tell from little things that she said.”
Ms. Hawkinberry had mentioned that she and Mr. Fredritz had talked before and that he had been nice to her, Mr. Carn said.
Wyandot County Sheriff Michael Hetzel said authorities believe the two victims were at the club’s canteen together the night of the shootings.
Mr. Clark entered the bar area that night and left before returning and confronting the victims, Sheriff Hetzel said. He said the suspect fired a shot into the ceiling before each victim was shot “multiple” times with a 22-caliber, semiautomatic pistol. The sheriff said authorities are tracking down details about the gun’s ownership.
About 15 people were at the club when the shooting occurred, and authorities received multiple 911 calls reporting the incident. Mr. Clark was taken into custody at the scene.
Both victims and the suspect were club members, said its president, Johnny Brewer of Carey. He said the jukebox was playing, and some who heard the first shot thought a speaker had popped.
“We all pretty much look at each other like family out there. We do a lot for each other; we do a lot for the community,” said Mr. Brewer, who arrived at the club shortly after the incident.
Lenny Clouse, president of Clouse Construction where Mr. Fredritz had worked for more than 25 years, said Mr. Clark and Ms. Hawkinberry visited the club when they were together. Mr. Fredritz, an avid trap shooter who lived near the club, knew them but not well, Mr. Clouse said.
He described Mr. Fredritz as a caring man who collected and restored old tractors.
“He was very good at what he did, no matter what he did,” Mr. Clouse said.
Mr. Brewer called Mr. Fredritz a good friend — close enough that his daughter called him “Uncle Roger” — who was always willing to lend a hand.
“He would do anything. He would give the shirt right off his back,” Mr. Brewer said.
Ms. Hawkinberry “went out of the way to take care of everybody else,” Mr. Carn said.
“She was the person that everybody talked to. … She was just so sweet to everybody,” her boss said. “If she had extra money, she would be buying lunch for the guys.”
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