Body identified as man some linked to Klusch killing

LISBON – The man found dead on a service road in Butler Township on Saturday has been identified as Matthew Bailey.

Bailey is the man Leah Klusch recently claimed shot and killed her husband, Gerald Klusch, in a civil lawsuit she filed in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court. No criminal charges were ever filed against any person regarding Klusch’s murder.

Sheriff Ray Stone said Bailey was positively identified Monday afternoon by coroner’s investigators working with the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. The cause of death is believed to be blunt force trauma, Stone said. The body was sent to Summit County for an autopsy.

Sheriff’s detectives are familiar with Bailey, who is one of the people they interviewed involving the disappearance in late 2011 of Gerald Klusch. However, Stone said investigators from the Columbiana County Homicide Task Force waited for confirmation from fingerprints before releasing Bailey’s name.

Stone said investigators spent most of Saturday and all day Monday interviewing a long list of people, some of whom may be considered “persons of interest.”

The body was discovered by a man and his two children riding four-wheelers in the area of the access road to an oil and gas well off Hartley Road in Butler Township on Saturday, Stone said. The man reportedly saw the body from a distance and he took his children home, then went back with a friend to make certain what he saw was a body and not a Halloween prank. They then contacted the sheriff’s department.

Gerald G. Klusch, 71, who owned farmland and lived on U.S. Route 30 just west of Lisbon, disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011. Bailey was identified at the time of Klusch’s disappearance as the last person believed to have seen Klusch alive. Bailey was a farmhand who worked for Klusch.

When Klusch disappeared, Ryan Klusch called the sheriff’s department on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, reporting the family had not seen his father, Gerald, since the day before. At that time, Ryan Klusch told deputies he had spoken to Bailey, who told him he was with his father until 1:30 p.m. that Thursday when Klusch reportedly dropped off Bailey at his home on Dungannon Road not far from the Klusch residence.

Klusch’s pickup was found later on Beacon Light Road with blood in the truck bed. His body was found on Nov. 18, 2011 on a wooded hillside off Hazel Run Road near the intersection with Clarks Mill Road outside of Salineville.

Unlike Klusch, Bailey’s body was reportedly found soon after his death, according to Stone. Although there is no time of death yet, Stone said investigators do not believe he had been there more than a day. One deputy reportedly served Bailey with a court document within the past 10 days.

Bailey, 34, was facing unrelated charges in Common Pleas Court. In June, he was listed among open indictments charged with two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, one for a loaded .38-caliber handgun and another misdemeanor count for a knife, both of which he allegedly had in his possession on May 6. Additionally, Bailey was charged with illegal possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs for alleged items used to create methamphetamine.