By Brock Vergakis
Authorities on Thursday charged a Weston man with the 1999 slayings of his mother and grandmother, whose bodies have never been found.
Joseph Metz, 39, was charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities also have issued a warrant for Steve Freeman, who faces the same charges. Officials say they believe he may be in northwest Ohio.
“We believe at this point in time he is to be considered dangerous,” Lewis County Sheriff Adam M. Gissy said at a news conference in Weston. But Freeman’s connection to Metz wasn’t immediately clear. Gissy declined to provide specific details about the case. He called the investigation ongoing.
During Metz’s arraignment early Thursday in Lewis County Magistrate Court, he denied any involvement.
“What can I say? I’m accused of something I didn’t do. ... Never even knew nothing about it,” Metz told WDTV following his court appearance.
Metz is being held without bond in the Central Regional Jail. Jail records did not indicate whether he had an attorney.
Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, 69, and her daughter, Mary Friend, 46, disappeared Dec. 1, 1999, after leaving their Jane Lew home on a Christmas shopping trip. Their silver-gray station wagon was found five days later near the Harrison County community of Gore in a muddy lot behind a concrete wall. There was no obvious evidence of foul play in the vehicle, but authorities declared it a crime scene and called in the FBI for help.
The women lived with Friend’s husband, Kevin, who was out of town at the time they vanished. Police said there were no signs of violence or intruders at the couple’s home.
In 2002, a purse belonging to one of the women was found at Stonewall Jackson Lake. At the time, authorities believed their bodies would be found weighted down at the bottom of the lake, but an extensive two-day search of lake didn’t turn anything up.
During a news conference Thursday, Lewis County Sheriff Adam M. Gissy declined to say whether Metz had been a suspect in the past, but noted that he had previously been interviewed by authorities early on in the investigation. Gissy said investigators spent the past four-plus months taking a second look at the case and interviewing witnesses again. Gissy didn’t specify what new evidence led to the arrest.