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Death of Austintown man, 76, treated as homicide

Published: Fri, January 21, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Elise Franco



A township woman was home for nearly five hours before discovering her elderly husband dead in the basement.

Police Chief Bob Gavalier said 76-year-old Stephen Shonn, of 3412 Bentwillow Lane, was found dead by his wife, Judith Shonn, about 4:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Gavalier said Shonn was face down with his arms at his sides. He said other than a bloody nose and a bluish color in his hands and face, police found no signs of blunt-force trauma or contusions.

Police are treating the death as a homicide because the victim’s car, a green ceramic beer stein and several other items were missing, and many drawers and cabinets had been searched through, Gavalier said.

He said he won’t be able to release an official cause of death until the Mahoning County coroner’s office performs an autopsy.

“The whole thing is very strange,” he said.

Judith Shonn told police she left the residence about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to play cards with friends.

When she returned home at 11:30 p.m., the victim’s green 2007 Buick Lucerne was missing from the garage. She told police she entered the garage using a code for the touch keypad and entered the house through a door in the garage, which was locked.

She said nothing seemed out of the ordinary because her husband mentioned that he might go to Truck World in Hubbard to get hot dogs — and she assumed he was still out.

The wife told police her purse had been dumped on the bed and a dresser drawer had been removed from the dresser with clothes placed on top. She said she cleaned up the mess and got ready for bed.

“She tried to contact the victim several times on his cell phone over the next few hours, but it went to voice mail,” Gavalier said. “She eventually went to look around the house and found him in the basement.”

Gavalier said police have no suspects. But he said that since there were no signs of forced entry or struggle, they believe the intruder was someone the victim knew.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Hmmmmmm............ If I was the coppers, the first think I'd want to know is why would an elderly man drive to Hubbard from Austintown for hot dogs? There are lots and lots of hot dog places MUCH closer.

Nothing wrong with that, I've driven long distances for food cravings, but I am not almost 80 years old though.

Is there something special about that truck stop?

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2palefoot(35 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Its not far by freeway and obviously they are very active at their age so it doesn't seem unusual to me for him to do something he likes while his wife is out.

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3foxyglo(372 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

WOW, seventy-six and a taste for hot dogs way in Hubbard from Austintown. I could have sworn the mate is always to be checked out first , what make their case any different

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4kfromtheburbs(23 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

funny db2 are you suggesting the hot dogs did it?lol

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5BGGHammer(21 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

C.mon A-town cops cant figure out real crimes, they are the DUI kings.

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6luvlove(9 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Prayer should definitely be posted on every city, state, federal building in the nation.

And for Youngstown it should be posted on every street corner.

The lack of Jehovah in ones life can lead people into darkness.

But with religion in ones life and the fear of Jehovah it would not lead to murder and stealing.

My prayers go out to all.

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7PvtParts(3 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

These are two of the nicest people anyone would have the pleasure of knowing and it is ridiculous to suggest that because this man drove 20 minutes from his home for food, that this is somehow suspect. I have know this family for many years and it is very sad that something like this happened to them. I hope and pray that the police find and punish the person who has caused so much pain for this family.

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8Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I think the cops will come through by talking to right people .I agree that evil that caused this was a probably a known evil, given the evidence thus far.

It almost sounds like a script for a Columbo episode. I always enjoyed watching Columbo sweat the over confident bad guys.

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9Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

purse had been dumped on the bed
She left the house with out her purse ?????

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10rumppy(119 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

As I have always said, it does not matter where you live in the Mahoning Valley, Atown,Bman,Cfield,Poland,Liberty,Ytown, its all the same. You are not safe. Its the entire area. Signs of the time.

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11Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

It is strange she didn't take her purse because most women do carry a purse. However, I don't so it is possible the wife didn't want to lug that thing around. But wouldn't the dumped dresser drawer raise a red flag to the wife? Like I would have called the cops right then and there, grabbed my gun or something and shook til the cops arrived. But just because a man is 76 does not mean he isn't able to drive 20 minutes to get hot dogs. Maybe this isn't the norm but it is certainly possible. Just be interesting to learn how he died. Perhaps he had a heart attack since it appeared there was no blunt force attack. Maybe he was poisoned. Lots of maybes so guess we just have to wait and see on this one.

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree it isn't unusual for a healthy elderly person to travel for tasty food. My dad is 77 and he will drive to Girard for hot dogs from the W side.Sometimes I will join him.

But as far as the case is concerned I am very interested in the outcome of this one.

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13Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow both my wife and I are over 70 and we have driven across the country 3 times in the last 4 years in an RV . Plus we have started 2 new business plus the ones we have .. And we know a lot of people over 70 that do more then we do .So going for hot dogs is a nothing. .And I still think they should look into the pures thing .

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14Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Older folks should have a little handgun handy just in case.When I delivered papers to Brandywine Apts back in the mid 1980s there was an elderly woman who sat in a large chair facing away from her open door . On the table next to her sat a snub .38.

She would know you were coming no matter how quiet you were and she would tell you to put the paper on her lap or on the table. It was unnerving. Sometimes she would be swearing like a sailor in there .I don't think anyone would have messed with her .

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