Wayne County authorities acknowledge homicide victim Mervin Stutzman was decapitated after he was fatally shot in his home.
The Wayne County coroner confirmed Monday that Mervin Stutzman was beheaded after he and his wife were shot to death last week in their home.
But authorities didn’t make the gruesome discovery until the day after the couple’s bodies were discovered, said Dr. Amy Jolliff, Wayne County coroner.
“It was a post-mortem process,” said Jolliff. “This was a separate event where for some reason (someone) removed the head from the body.”
Stutzman, 68, and his wife, Viola, 65, were discovered Thursday fatally shot in the basement of their home in Wayne County’s Paint Township, about a mile west of the Stark County line.
The couple’s adopted son, Rodney Stutzman, 31, was apprehended in the Beckley, W.Va., area. He is expected to be returned to Wayne County to face two aggravated murder charges and an aggravated burglary count.
A shotgun was used in the crime, but Jolliff wouldn’t say what instrument was used to behead Mervin Stutzman.
“I have an idea, but that is part of the investigation,” she said.
It’s possible that Rodney Stutzman could face an additional charge related to the decapitation, the coroner said.
“I don’t know if the prosecutor (Daniel Lutz) is to the stage yet where they know what charges they will file,” Jolliff said. “But I am sure that will be taken into consideration.”
Though authorities discovered the bodies Thursday, Jolliff did not conclude the man’s head had been removed until the following day.
“You could not approach the bodies without disturbing some of the scene evidence,” Jolliff said. “It was actually Friday afternoon we were able to evaluate the bodies. At that point we were able to determine the injuries were consistent with shotgun wounds and decapitation.”
Wayne County Sheriff Thomas G. Maurer was not available Monday for comment.