Judge calls 'ridiculous' request to exhume bodies of suspects in 1974 case

By joe gorman



Judge R. Scott Krichbaum on Wednesday called a proposed motion to exhume the bodies of suspects in a 1974 triple homicide “respectfully ridiculous.”

But the judge did say if the lawyer making the motion comes up with a good argument, he would consider it.

Tony Meranto, attorney for 64-year-old James Ferrara, said he wants to compare DNA taken from a cigarette recovered from the crime scene to compare with DNA from the suspects. He also noted that the DNA profile found on the cigarette did not match his client.

The crime scene was a South Turner Road, Canfield Township, home of Benjamin Marsh in December 1974.

Ferrara had a status hearing Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Ferrara, 64, was indicted in June in the 1974 murders of Marsh, 33; his wife, Marilyn, 32; and their daughter, Heather, 4, at their home.

Christopher Marsh, 1, was unharmed but found crawling in his mother’s blood when deputy sheriffs arrived. Investigators said someone broke into the home to commit the crime.

Ferrara was indicted after detectives with the sheriff’s office were able to match his fingerprints in 2009 with a statewide database. Ferrara has been serving time in prison on a life- sentence since being convicted of a double homicide in 1984 in the Columbus area.

When asked how many suspects there were at the time, Meranto said about 30, but he said if he had to, he would narrow it down to two or three whom sheriff’s detectives focused on at the time of the crime.

Assistant Prosecutor Rebecca Doherty said that there was no real suspect at the time of the killings. She said investigators were looking for anyone who may have committed burglaries such as the one at the Marsh home or others with criminal records, but they all were cleared. She said no connection could ever be made between those people and the Marsh family or the Lordstown GM plant, where Marsh worked in security and where Ferrara worked about the same time.

Doherty said the mindset at the time was, “These are our bad guys, and lets compare their prints.”

Meranto said one of the state’s theories is that someone waited around in the home for Marilyn Marsh to come home after Benjamin Marsh was killed, and then killed her and her daughter. That’s because there were several cigarettes and ashes on the floor of the home. He said whoever was smoking in the home either was the killer or knew who did it, and by comparing DNA, they could maybe find out who that person was.

Judge Krichbaum said it would be hard to justify exhuming people who were never charged

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