CADIZ - Since the body of 45-year-old Joseph Strother was found near Shelter 3 in Sally Buffalo Park on March 28, rumors have circulated throughout the community about the nature of his death. County prosecutor Michael Washington has now laid out the facts, putting those rumors to rest.
Strother was found face-down and nude by a local woman walking her dog at the park. According to the county coroner, his cause of death was blunt force trauma to his head. Washington revealed that investigators believe the case started as a felonious assault and led into homicide. One particular rumor alleged that Strother's body had been mutilated, but Washington shut that down as false.
However, investigators continue to keep their lips sealed regarding any further details. They will not reveal what they suspect was used as a weapon. While investigators have an idea of why Strother was with his suspected murderers, they will not go into any details about how the three knew each other. Strother had been reported missing by his wife the day before his body was found.
The suspects, Matthew Dowdel, 24, of Hopedale and Eve Kelley, 33, previously of Wintersville, went on the run throughout the Ohio Valley and eventually to Florida in their attempt to escape capture after Strother was found. Dowdel and Kelley eluded authorities for over a week before they were caught in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. They are being held in Volusia County Jail and face felony charges including grand theft of a motor vehicle under $100,000 and being fugitives from justice. Once those charges are settled, Dowdel and Kelley will be brought back to Harrison County to be arraigned.
A grand jury, which met last week, indicted Dowdel and Kelley on four charges each.
"Both suspects are being charged with felonious assault and murder and also complicity to commit murder and complicity to commit felonious assault," said Washington. "That's based on a statement from one of the co-defendants as to whether they were fully involved or partially involved."
Detective Bill Jones of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and Sgt. Chris Mazeroski of the Cadiz Police Department traveled to Florida to interview the suspects. Washington says he has placed calls and faxed a letter but is waiting to hear back from investigators down south.
Warner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.