|Death: ||Jan. 30, 2011|
Johnny S. Clarke was a "mama's boy," according to his aunt, Maggie Cromer, and when his mother could not reach her 21-year-old son on his cell phone early Monday she had a "gut feeling" that something was terribly wrong.
After two calls to 911, Johnny's father, John P. Clarke, drove to the Springfield Township home where Johnny was living and kicked in the front door shortly before 4 a.m. Inside, he found his son and his son's girlfriend, 20-year-old Lisa Straub, lying dead on the floor, their hands bound with duct tape and plastic bags over their heads.
"What kind of evil person could make such a heinous crime?" Ms. Cromer said between sobs at a news conference Monday night.
Her husband, Joe, said Johnny's father "is in complete shock, to find his own son laying there. … He tried to revive him. … It's just heartbreaking."
Ms. Straub's parents, Jeff and Mary Beth Straub, had left on Friday for a 25th wedding anniversary Caribbean cruise and were reached by relatives at 1 p.m. yesterday. The couple were flying back Monday night from Miami, trying to beat the imminent winter storm, said Jim Verbosky, Lisa Straub's uncle.
Mr. Clarke's mother had called 911 at 1:24 a.m. and again at 2:07 a.m., according to Detective Cathy Stooksbury of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office.
"Mom felt in her gut that there was something wrong, but she got that gut feeling because of some information she got earlier in the morning just before we got called out there at 1:24 a.m.," she said.
"Our crews went out there. We saw nothing amiss when we did the first check," Detective Stooksbury said. "They rang the bell, looked in the windows, walked around house. There were no sign of forced entry."
A deputy checked the house at 2161 Longacre Lane a second time, but again got no response at the door and saw nothing out of place, she said. There were no tracks in the snow.
The third time Mr. Clarke's mother called 911, it was 3:50 a.m. and she said her husband had just found Mr. Clarke and Miss Straub dead.
Detective Stooksbury said deputies came upon a "horrific" scene in the kitchen/dining room area of the house.
Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick said the victims "were bound, and they had plastic bags over the heads, and they do not have any obvious gunshot wounds. That's where we are."
Investigators said they are treating both deaths as homicides, although autopsies were to be performed Tuesday.
Detective Stooksbury said investigators have not determined a motive in the slayings, although it appeared that someone had gone through a part of the house looking for something.
"There may be evidence that it could possibly have been an attempted type robbery situation, that people may have been looking for money," she said. "We're not sure of that. That's something that we're looking into."
She also said there is a chance the suspect or suspects could have been let inside the home.
Ms. Cromer said she believed the victims knew their killer or killers. "It must have been somebody they knew, obviously, to let them in the house."
She said Miss Straub, a 2009 graduate of Springfield High School, and Mr. Clarke had been dating for nearly two years. Mr. Clarke, a graduate of Bowsher High School, had been living with the Straub family for several months, Ms. Cromer said.
Miss Straub was a pre-nursing student at Owens Community College and had worked as a server at T.G.I. Fridays restaurant on Bernath Parkway for about a year.
Mr. Verbosky, who is Rossford's fire chief, said his niece "always had a smile on her face and was always a nice, happy girl."
In a news conference at his Rossford home Monday night, Mr. Verbosky said Miss Straub played volleyball on travel teams and was looking forward to a career in nursing. "She had goals and was working toward the future to help others," he said. "She strived to be a good person and had a lot to offer her community."
Miss Straub loved animals and had recently rescued and was raising a Rottweiler puppy, her uncle said.
He said she had no enemies and that her parents were in "total shock and disbelief."
Jaime Drafts, who had worked with Miss Straub at Applebee's restaurant on West Dussel Drive in Maumee, was shocked to hear news of the slayings.
"I saw her a week ago when I went to see her where she works now at T.G.I. Friday's," Miss Drafts said. "She was a super nice girl and always fun to be around."
Mark Mundwiler, T.G.I. Friday's manager, said Ms. Straub began working as a server at the corporation's Airport Highway franchise restaurant about a year ago.
Employees were devastated, and the company said it would offer grief counseling to employees.
One worker, who did not give her name, gave a blank look and remarked how "everyone here knew her."
Many learned of the homicide early Monday morning as news spread across the Internet on media Web sites and the Facebook social networking site, Mr. Mundwiler said.
Before the restaurant opened for normal business, employees put several tables together to sit down and console each other, he said.
"We bond together so close as a family," Mr. Mundwiler said of the restaurant staff.
Sarah Mettler, who described herself as a childhood friend of Miss Straub, drove to the Straubs' home Monoday morning rather than going to class at the University of Toledo.
"We learned how to walk together — no joke — we were best friends," Miss Mettler said. "She's a very nice person. She's just always happy … I just can't believe this happened."
Johnny Clarke played football at Bowsher and was planning to start barber school in a few weeks, according to his uncle and aunt.
"He was very well liked. He had a lot of friends," Ms. Cromer said.
Mr. Cromer said his nephew "may have had a little bit of trouble here and there, but Johnny, you know, he was trying to get his life together. Lisa was a good girl. They were both loved. Johnny was a big part of our life. He's like our own son."
Mr. Cromer said Johnny "got into little mischievous stuff, like everybody else."
Asked if Mr. Clarke hung around with some bad people, Mr. Cromer said: "Who don't? Mr. Verbosky and the Cromers urged anyone with information on the slayings to contact law-enforcement authorities.
"Somebody out there has got to know what's going on. Somebody saw something," Mr. Cromer said.
Those who lived near the Straubs in the quiet, upscale neighborhood told deputies they had not seen or heard anything unusual Sunday night or early Monday, Detective Stooksbury said. No suspects had been identified yesterday although detectives were "following up quite a few leads," she said.
She said Mr. Clarke had picked up Miss Straub from work Sunday. The two "had plans with someone earlier in the evening," the detective said, but had not shown up and had not called to say they wouldn't be there. Miss Straub's car was in the garage, and it did not appear they had gone out at all that evening, she said.
Asked whether the slayings appeared to be random or intentional, Detective Stooksbury said she did not know.
"As of right now, I would hate to even speculate," she said. "It was very tragic — two young people — very tragic."
Anyone with information about the crime is urged to call the sheriff's office or Crime Stoppers, 419-255-1111.
John S Clarke (____ - 2011)
Created by: Karen
Record added: Feb 02, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 65069111
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