The suspect is the slaying of a Wayne County couple was arrested late Thursday in West Virginia. Rodney Stutzman, 31, was stopped by the West Virginia police while driving around 10:30 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 64 outside of Beckley, W.Va.
A Wayne County man accused of murdering his parents drove into Massillon before heading out of the state.
He didn’t get too far.
Investigators say they used a cell phone global positioning system to track Rodney Stutzman before he was caught late Thursday near Beckley, W.Va.
Stutzman, 31, is expected to be returned to Wayne County next week to face two counts of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary charges.
He is accused in the shooting deaths of his adoptive parents, Mervin Stutzman, 66, and Viola Stutzman, 65, in the farmhouse they shared in Paint Township outside Mount Eaton. The home at 17559 Harrison Road is about a mile west of the Stark County border and four miles west of Brewster.
The couple’s older son, Larry Stutzman of Indiana, contacted deputies Thursday morning. He was concerned when he couldn’t reach his parents by phone.
Mervin and Viola Stutzman were last seen Sunday morning at their church.
Unable to contact anyone inside, deputies climbed through a broken basement window, which had been covered with plastic. Deputies said they found the bodies in the basement. Both had been shot with a shotgun.
TRACKING DOWN A SUSPECT
Investigators issued a nationwide alert asking other law-enforcement agencies to look out for a burgundy 2006 Toyota Tundra pickup Rodney Stutzman was believed to be driving.
Wayne County Sheriff Thomas G. Maurer said in a noon press conference Friday that, with assistance from the FBI, deputies used a cell phone’s global positioning system to track Stutzman through Massillon and then south.
The turnpike division of the West Virginia State Police received the alert and stopped the truck at 10:20 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 64, just north of Interstate 77, said Capt. Randall Hyre of the West Virginia agency.
Hyre said Stutzman surrendered without incident. Maurer said a weapon was found in Stutzman’s pickup, though he would not confirm whether it was the one used in the slayings.
The Stutzman family dog with him was taken to a dog pound and the vehicle was impounded.
Stutzman remains in the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, W.Va., awaiting a hearing.
More than a dozen vehicles belonging to the Wayne County sheriff’s deputies and members of the FBI Evidence Response Team remained at the Stutzman farm as of Friday afternoon.
Investigators donned shoe coverings and protective suits. Several went in and out of the large barn and also scoured the field.
“We are processing the entire area for evidence,” Maurer said.
Maurer said other guns were found on the property. He described the scene as “horrific.”
Rodney Stutzman had been living with his parents since being discharged from the Army in December. Maurer said details about Stutzman’s service were not known.
Page 2 of 2 - Stutzman has a child, for which he pays child support, according to county court records. He had only minor traffic infractions listed in the court system.Authorities believe Stutzman broke into the home.
Maurer would not name a motive for the shooting or say why Stutzman may have broken in.
Larry and Rodney were adopted by the Stutzmans.
“I remember when they got that little boy, he was in diapers,” said Clarence Steiner, a family friend of the Stutzmans, as he watched investigators work at the scene. “This is so sad. They were very nice.
“When Merv said something you knew what he meant,” Steiner said. “He was as good as his word. He was always fun to be around.”
He described Viola Stutzman as quiet.
Steiner said Mervin Stutzman formerly had about 15 or 20 dairy cows but also had been a semi driver. He said the couple enjoyed traveling to hear inspirational or gospel music.
“It’s so sad, they chose to give Rodney a home and here he turns around and does this,” Steiner said.