UPDATED: Police seek stalker as suspect; Canfield murder victim identified
CANFIELD — Canfield police responded to a 911 call just after 7 a.m. today, finding Stacey L. Sutera, a 40-year-old science teacher, shot to death in the parking lot of Carriage Hill apartment complex off Fairground Boulevard.
Sutera was a Mahoning County Career and Technical Center science teacher. Her cause of death remained pending, the Mahoning County Coroner's office said.
Police Chief Chuck Colucci said authorities believe she was getting into her vehicle when she was shot multiple times. It’s possible she tried to drive away and was shot again.
A police alert was issued to be on the lookout for Robert McLaughlin, described as ex-military and armed and dangerous. He would face an aggravated murder charge, Colucci said.
Colucci said police are working on arrest warrants and will have more information later today.
A male neighbor said, “This morning I thought they were picking up the garbage, then I heard ‘pop pop pop’ — probably five or six gunshots.”
A 13-year-old girl said she was in her bedroom getting ready for school when she heard about six gunshots. She looked out the window but didn’t see anything.
“I heard a crash-type noise and ran downstairs,” she said.
Another neighbor said she looked out the window and saw a man standing by the victim’s car, then saw him walking away. She then lost sight of him.
McLaughlin, was sentenced Nov. 29 to five years’ probation, including 500 hours of community service and fined $2,500.
Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court also ordered McLaughlin to take anger-management classes and have no contact with the victim after he pleaded guilty to three counts of pandering obscenity and three counts of possessing criminal tools.
Police said McLaughlin had been harassing the victim since March 2010 by sending emails threatening to reveal personal information about her.
McLaughlin was also sentenced to six months in Mahoning County jail after pleading guilty in December 2010 in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield to related misdemeanor charges of stalking and telephone harassment.
A police report said detectives found photos of the victim, pornographic material, stacks of papers listing names and addresses of Ohio and Pennsylvania schools, as well as various businesses, computer equipment; and business cards with the victim’s ex-boyfriend’s name on them.
In addition to the emails, letters containing a website with fabricated sexual information about the victim and business cards stating the victim would perform specific sexual acts were mailed to business owners, school administrators, and teachers throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and parts of Pennsylvania, the report said.
Roan Craig, superintendent of Mahoning County Career and Technical Center where Sutera was in her second year as a science teacher, described the mood at the school Wednesday as somber. Grief counselors were on hand and would remain at the school for as long as needed she said.
Sutera was well-liked by students and respected by staff, she said.
“She was a good person and we loved her,” Craig said.
Before being hired at MCCTC, Sutera worked just more than a year as a chemistry and physics teacher at Columbiana High School.
“We were sad to see her leave,” said Don Mook, superintendent of Columbiana Exempted Village Schools. “When she had the opportunity to go to the career center I know that’s something she wanted to do. She felt a call to go in that direction, but we were sad to see her go.”