The Suburbanite
  • Wayne County Sheriff calls murder scene 'horrific'

  • Investigators were continuing to work the crime scene Friday where Mervin and Viola Stutzman were found shot to death in their home the day before. At a noon news conference, officials said the couple’s adopted son, Rodney Stutzman, was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated murder...
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  • Wayne County Sheriff Thomas G. Maurer said the man accused of murdering his parents Thursday in the farmhouse they shared is in a West Virginia jail awaiting an extradition hearing.
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    Video - Wayne County Sheriff discusses double murder
    Rodney Stutzman, 31, is expected to return to Wayne County sometime next week, where deputies have warrants for his arrest on aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated murder.
    He is accused in the shooting deaths of his adopted parents, Mervin Stutzman, 66, and Viola Stutzman, 65.
    The couple’s older son, Larry Stutzman, had contacted deputies Thursday morning when he couldn’t reach his parents by phone. Larry Stutzman lives in Indiana.
    Mervin and Viola Stutzman were last seen Sunday morning at their church. Officers went to their home at 17559 Harrison Rd. in Paint Township around 9:30 a.m. and climbed through a broken out basement window, which had been covered with plastic. Deputies found the bodies in the basement of the farmhouse. Both had been shot with a shotgun.
    Deputies issued a nationwide alert asking other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for a burgundy, 2006 Toyota Tundra pickup truck, which Rodney Stutzman was believed to be driving.
    Maurer said in a noon press conference Friday that, with assistance from the FBI, deputies used a cell phone GPS (global positioning system) to track Rodney Stutzman. He was tracked through Massillon and then south. The Turnpike division of the West Virginia state police received the alert and pulled him over 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. The Stutzman family dog that was with him was taken to a dog pound and the vehicle was impounded.
    Maurer said a weapon was found in Stutzman’s pickup, though he would not confirm whether it was the murder weapon.
    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 at 1 p.m. Friday.
    Page 2 of 2 - Investigators donned shoe coverings and protective suits to process the crime scene. Several of them went in and out of the large barn and also scoured the field as horses ran past them.
    “We are processing the entire area for evidence,” Maurer said.
    Rodney Stutzman had been living with his parents since being discharged from the Army in December. Maurer said details about his service were not known. Authorities believe Stutzman broke into the home. Maurer would not name a motive for the shooting or say why Stutzman may have broken in.
    Maurer said other guns were found on the property. He described the scene as “horrific.”
    Larry and Rodney each 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 continued. “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.
    The bodies of Mervin and Viola Stutzman had not yet been removed from the home as of Friday afternoon.

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