CLEVELAND – Authorities have charged two men with killing an Ohio real estate agent who was showing a vacant house for sale, the first of two agents killed in a week in the region.
Youngstown Municipal Court said Robert Brooks, 25, of Youngstown, and Grant Cooper, 21, of Hubbard, were charged Thursday. They were expected to be arraigned Friday.
Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes told The Associated Press in an e-mail Friday that each had been charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson and kidnapping.
Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said that, based on the initial information he had, the grand jury would be asked to consider death penalty specifications against the suspects. Charges against additional suspects hasn't been ruled out, he said.
The body of real estate agent Vivian Martin, 67, was found Monday in a vacant home Youngstown. The coroner said she had been strangled before her body was badly burned in a fire that gutted the house.
Brooks and his brother have been charged separately with robbing a real estate agent last week in Boardman just outside Youngstown.
Brooks and Paul Brooks, 27, pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated robbery and are being held without bond until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday. They do not have attorneys.
In the Kent area 40 miles from Youngstown, authorities issued an arrest warrant in the death of an agent found slain early Tuesday in a house he was showing for sale. Authorities don't think the homicides are related.
Portage County Sheriff David Doak said Robert Grigelaitis, 59, suspected in the death of Andrew VonStein, 51, remained at-large Friday. The alert to other agencies warned that he should be considered armed and dangerous.
VonStein's body was found Tuesday with a single gunshot wound. His wallet and cell phone were missing, medical records show.
Grigelaitis has addresses in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and in Ravenna in northeast Ohio, near the house where VonStein's body was found.
It was not immediately clear whether Grigelaitis had an attorney.
The violence has prompted frightened agents in northeast Ohio to cancel open houses and avoid meeting prospective buyers alone. In Youngstown, some agents canceled open houses in Martin's honor.