A 31-year-old man who was discharged from the Army in December has been arrested for suspicion of killing his parents. Rodney Stutzman was arrested late Thursday night after a daylong manhunt after the bodies of his mother and father were discovered Thursday in the basement of their Harrison Road home in rural Wayne County, about two miles from the Stark County border.
Rodney Stutzman, 31, is in custody after a daylong manhunt and is a suspect in the murders of 68-year-old Mervin Stutzman and his wife, Viola, 65, of 17559 Harrison Rd., less than two miles west of the Stark County line.
Sheriff Thomas G. Maurer said at a news conference Thursday evening that Rodney Stutzman is believed to be armed and dangerous and driving his 2006 burgundy Toyota Tundra pickup.
Maurer later reported on the "Wayne County Sheriff" Facebook page at around midnight that Stutzman had been arrested. CantonRep.com could not confirm reports that Stutzman was arrested in Beckley, W.Va. (Information has been corrected to fix an error. See correction at end of story. 8:25 a.m., Jan. 14, 2011)
Maurer would not confirm how the couple was killed, but said it was possible they were gunshot victims.
Stutzman does not have a criminal record, Maurer said.
Maurer said deputies went to the Stutzman home after receiving a Thursday morning call from the couple’s older son in Indiana, identified as Gary Stutzman. He was concerned about his parents after not being able to make contact with them. Maurer said Stutzman last spoke with his parents sometime over the weekend.
Maurer said deputies entered the home through an unlocked basement door when no one answered the doorbell. They were greeted by a “gruesome scene.” He refused to elaborate.
Gary Stutzman told authorities that his unemployed brother, Rodney, seemed “disturbed and isolated” since his discharge from the U.S. Army in December, and that was the reason for his concern. Maurer said he did not believe Rodney Stutzman had threatened his parents previously.
FBI agents from Canton, Cleveland and Akron were helping to assess the crime scene Thursday at the 16-acre farm, and were expected to remain there with Wayne County officials overnight. Maurer said no Stark County law enforcement officials were involved.
Neighbor Marvin Miller said Stutzman drove for a Stark County trucking company. “He was on road all the time,” Miller said. “He liked driving” and his wife often went with him. They also would go for rides on Stutzman’s motorcycle.
He also said the older brother’s name was Larry, not Gary.
The Stutzmans rented most of the farm out to others raising livestock on the property, and Mervin Stutzman was a “hobby farmer.”
Maurer asked anyone with information on Stutzman to call local law enforcement or the sheriff’s office at 330-287-5750.