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Manhunt for Canfield teacher's killer

Published: Thu, February 9, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.



RELATED: • Victim’s fear of suspect Robert McLaughlin was well-documented

• Stacey Sutera harassment stalking timeline

• Mahoning cops say they're limited by the law





  Teacher Killed

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.

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.

A 64-year-old man convicted last year of stalking a Mahoning Valley teacher is now being sought for her murder.

Stacey Sutera, 40, was found dead outside of her Carriage Hill Apartments residence just after 7 a.m. Wednesday. She was a science teacher at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

Police Chief Chuck Colucci said police are searching for Robert P. McLaughlin, 64, of Marsh Lane, Painesville. An aggravated murder warrant was issued Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said McLaughlin is driving a rented gray Chrysler Town & Country van with Ohio license plate EZE 9055.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also is asking for help in finding McLaughlin; the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting the Canfield Police Department, as is the Mahoning Valley Homicide Task Force.

Police described him as ex-military, and armed and dangerous. He is 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighs 190 pounds.

Sutera was found shot to death just outside her condo. Colucci said they believe she was getting into her vehicle when she was shot multiple times. She apparently tried to drive away, and was shot again.

The chief said slugs found at the scene came from more than one gun.

What neighbors say

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.

Craig Tareshawty, owner of several townhouses inside Carriage Hill apartments that surrounded the condominium where the victim lived, said he was “shocked” to hear of the shooting.

He said the property is one of his favorites and heard no complaints of stalking from residents who lived in units he owns.

“My problems at those apartments are few and far between,” Tareshawty said.

He received a call from the resident manager Wednesday morning telling him of the shooting.

He said he did not own the unit where the victim lived at 331 Carriage Lane. Before purchasing Carriage Hill apartments in 1999, he said 39 of the 58 townhouses there were sold as condominiums.

COURT history

McLaughlin went through two courts as the full case against him was prosecuted.

He was sentenced Dec. 17, 2010, to six months in Mahoning County jail after pleading guilty in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield to misdemeanor charges of menacing by stalking.

He was also indicted on felony charges by a county grand jury in January 2011.

In Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, McLaughlin pleaded guilty to three counts of pandering obscenity and three counts of possessing criminal tools. He was sentenced on Nov. 29, 2011, to five years’ probation, including 500 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine. Judge Maureen A. Sweeney also ordered McLaughlin to take anger-management classes, not possess firearms and have no contact with Sutera.


Police said McLaughlin had been harassing the victim since March 2010 by sending e-mails threatening to reveal personal information about her.

Sutera and McLaughlin met about 15 years ago when her sister brought him to Arizona, where Sutera lived at the time.

After she divorced and moved back to Ohio, Sutera told police she and McLaughlin became close. She described him as a “father figure” in a police report taken by Canfield police in 2010. At that time, Sutera had no knowledge who was harassing her.

In early 2010 Sutera told police McLaughlin began asking her to date him, but she rebuffed his advances.

During the stalking investigation in December 2010, Canfield police found a letter in McLaughlin’s car. It stated: “Bob, I sure do appreciate everything you have done for me. ... If this were a father/daughter relationship it would be nice. If it were a friendship it would be great. It is not either of those, and I don’t know what it is, exactly. ... This friendship is causing more harm than good, especially for you. If you don’t see that you’re in denial. This is not a rejection of you, but a rejection of an unhealthy relationship. I will not be calling you, and I don’t expect you to call me or try to see me.”

A police report based on a search warrant Dec. 8, 2010, at McLaughlin’s home said detectives found photos of Sutera, 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 e-mails, 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.


Yellow tape surrounded parking lot of the Carriage Hill apartments early Wednesday, as residents stood nearby in snow and waited for any bit of information.

Police, who were on the scene for more than four hours, placed evidence markers on at least 12 spots scattered within the taped-off area.

Colucci said Sutera was first shot as she got into her car, which was parked outside her condo.

It’s likely she tried to escape in her car by driving through the grass, causing her bumper to come off and Sutera to crash into two other cars about 20 feet away.

The rear-view and passenger’s side front windows of the black Volvo were shot out. Police found her dead in the car; her body was then covered with a sheet outside of the vehicle.


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.

Prior to 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.”

Mook said Sutera was a sweet person.

“She really cared about the kids,” he said. “That’s why she went into education.”

Past homicides

Canfield and Canfield Township are not hotbeds for homicide.

Annette M. Giancola, who was found innocent by reason of insanity in the 1997 bathtub drowning deaths of her twin 3-year-old son and daughter in their Canfield Township residence, died of cancer at age 50 in May 2010.

Giancola, who was in a psychiatric hospital until May 2004, had lived since then in Youngstown, first in a group home and later in a private residence under court supervision. Her death was noted in a judgment entry from Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that officially closed Giancola’s case.

Also contributing: Staff writers Denise Dick, Robert Guttersohn and Peter H. Milliken

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