By joe gorman
The four children of a woman found beaten to death in her far West Side home New Year’s Eve did not witness the beating, but they did wake up to find their mother dead, police said.
U.S. Marshals arrested the man they believe killed 26-year-old Lashea Parker, Larry Johnson, 39, at a Walmart in Columbus on Wednesday evening.
Police went to get Johnson from the Franklin County Jail on Thursday, and he should be arraigned in municipal court today.
Parker was found about 2 p.m. Tuesday in her home by a neighbor who saw her four children, age 1 to 7, playing outside in her yard. The neighbor went over when they saw that one of the children did not have a coat.
One of the children then told the neighbor their mother was dead. The neighbor went inside, saw Parker’s body and called police.
Johnson was described as Parker’s boyfriend, according to police reports. Reports said the children told police Johnson was at the home Monday evening when they went to sleep. When they woke up, they found their mother dead, reports said.
The children are now in the custody of relatives.
When police were at the home, the children stayed with a neighbor who was a friend of Parker’s. The neighbor told police that Parker was a hairstylist and often did her hair. Reports said the neighbor told detectives Parker had been telling her that Johnson had been physically abusing her during the last couple of months.
Johnson has no known local criminal record. A search of municipal court and Mahoning County Common Pleas Court records revealed he has only had a parking ticket.
Investigators said there was a phone in the home with the children but it had been disabled. They said it was impossible to tell if that was before or after Parker was killed.
When Johnson was arrested in Columbus by the marshals, he was in Parker’s car, which had been missing from her home. Police had been searching the area for the vehicle.
Lt. Douglas Bobovnyk said arrangements will be made to have Parker’s car returned here from Columbus as well to be tested for evidence.
Parker’s death was the 20th homicide in Youngstown in 2013. In 2012, Youngstown recorded 26 homicides.