Man Allegedly Kills Estranged Wife as Kids Watch
JEFFERSON, Ohio – A man is accused of shooting his estranged wife and her boyfriend to death in front of two of the married couple's children on Christmas Day, then kidnapping his 4-year-old son, authorities said.
The couple's 7-year-old daughter called 911 to report the shooting, Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson said. The boy was recovered unharmed at his father's home.
John Marsh, 32, was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated kidnapping.
Marsh, dressed in jail clothing, sat calmly when he appeared in Ashtabula County Court Eastern Area. The court does not accept pleas in felony cases. Bond was set at $2 million and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 3. Marsh will have a court-appointed attorney, though he appeared without one Tuesday.
Jennifer Marsh, 30, and David Beach, 32, were shot several times, the Ashtabula County coroner's office said. They were killed in the home Mrs. Marsh rented in Williamsfield Township in the northeast Ohio county. A 12-year-old son was away.
Mrs. Marsh's father, Charles Mercer, said his daughter filed for divorce in September, accusing her husband of domestic violence and obtaining a court order for him to stay away.
"There were threats, but not much we could do," Mercer said.
The Mercers are seeking custody of their three grandchildren.
Johnson said Tuesday that John Marsh had made threats against his wife three months ago, but a gun was not involved. Johnson said deputies can't know when a person is going to abide by or violate a civil court order.
"It didn't work in this particular case, and it's unfortunate," he said.
Johnson praised the bravery of the estranged couple's daughter, Katlyn, for making the 911 call.
"This 7-year-old girl is not only a brave little girl, but it is remarkable when you hear this," he said, referring to the recording of the call.
He said a dispatcher was trying to carry on a conversation to keep the girl calm and convince her she would be safe. When the girl called, she expressed alarm that her father was in the house attacking her mother. The dispatcher asked: "What's your dad doing?" The girl replied, "He's killing my mom."
The recording includes a comment from the girl refusing to leave with her father. "No, no. I'm not going with you," she said.
The call was disconnected, but a short time later the girl called back.
"Is there anyone else home with you?" the dispatcher asked.
"No. They're all dead," the girl said.