Death of Austintown man, 76, treated as homicide

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.

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