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August brings rash of slayings



Published: Fri, August 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The homicides push the annual number to 22, up from 13 at this time last year.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- August has been hot and deadly, with four homicides in as many days.

Sunday evening, 19-year-old shooting victim Sierra Slaton was found floating in McKelvey Lake on the East Side. Monday night, Michael S. Olenik, 28, was shot dead in his car downtown. Wednesday morning, James Rowles, 66, was shot dead at his North Side home, which was then set on fire. Late Wednesday afternoon, 40-year-old Harold Schuler was shot to death in a South Side home and his brother was charged with the crime.

The killing spree brought the city's homicide rate to 22. At this time last year, the city had recorded 13 slayings.

As of Thursday, no arrests had been made in the Slaton and Olenik homicides.

In the Schuler case, his brother, Elbert W. Schuler, 42, of Cleveland Street, was arraigned Thursday in municipal court on a murder charge. He was also charged with failure to appear on driving under suspension cases from 1999 and 2001. Judge Robert P. Milich set bond at $161,500.

Anthony J. Farris, chief assistant city prosecutor, said the Schuler brothers had been arguing over money and alcohol was involved. Farris said evidence in the case is strong and that Elbert Schuler is a flight risk because he has a large number of children and ties in North Carolina.

Police found Harold Schuler, 40, in the back yard of a house on Falls Avenue around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday. Reports show he also lived at the Cleveland Street house.

Violent mysteries

Earlier Wednesday, around 3:30 a.m., firefighters found Rowles dead inside his burning house at 2318 Trussit St.

Detective Sgt. Jose Morales said Rowles had been shot in the head and robbed of a car stereo and items from the house. Morales said he has a suspect in mind.

Chuck Hanni, an investigator with the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office, said the fire was intentionally set. He said Ashes, a beagle trained to detect accelerants, alerted investigators to an area between the dining room and living room.

Hanni said debris was removed from the house and sent to a lab to be tested to determine what was used to set the fire.

Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. said the four homicides are unrelated and reflect our society. He said guns and alcohol don't mix, referring to the Schuler homicide, and Rowles was the victim of a robbery.

The chief said detectives have leads in the deaths of Slaton and Olenik, which may link them to criminal activity.

"Lifestyle puts you in a violent culture," Bush said.

Wounded

Aside from Wednesday's homicides, a woman and two men were injured by gunfire.

Roy D. Meadows Jr., 19, of Fairgreen Avenue was shot in the back as he drove on the North Side at 10 p.m. Wednesday, reports show. He was in critical condition Thursday evening at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

His passenger told police that shots came from a Chevrolet Malibu as they exited the Madison Avenue Expressway at Wick Avenue. Meadows drove himself to the hospital. Police confiscated two handguns found in the car.

Darrel Mason, 42, of Ferndale Avenue was in stable condition at the hospital after being shot in the left shoulder at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. He told police that shots were fired from a dark-colored SUV as he drove on Interstate 680 near the Williamson Avenue exit. Mason drove himself to the hospital.

Angela Young, 38, of West Glenaven Avenue was also in stable condition with a gunshot wound just below her left breast. She told police that she escaped from three men who held her for days at a house on Chalmers Avenue.

Young, who admitted being high and that she had been drinking, said the men followed her home because they wanted to rob a 76-year-old man at the house on Glenaven, police said. She said she was shot as she beat on the front door while trying to enter.

The man at the house said he only heard her knocking, no gunfire.

meade@vindy.com




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