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Sheriff: Victims beaten, not shot

December 11, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - A week after her death, authorities released new information into what caused the death of Melinda Todd, 43, in her Salem Township home on state Route 45.

Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone said Monday investigators learned last week the woman did not die of gunshot wounds as was previously believed. Instead, the fatal injuries to Todd and head injuries to her grandson, Cole Reed, were both caused by blunt force trauma or beating.

Reed survived his injuries after he underwent surgery at Akron Children's Hospital last Monday. After the 5-year-old regained consciousness, investigators were trying to gain information from the boy late last week. He reportedly was able to provide "thumbs up and thumbs down" responses.

While the evidence at the scene last Monday night and even an initial doctor's report suggested a firearm had been used in the crime, Stone said it was later learned that it was not the case. Todd's body was sent to the Summit County Coroner's Office, where the next day a pathologist made the determination of blunt force trauma.

Stone said he has received the verbal confirmation about the cause of death, but had not yet received a copy of the coroner's preliminary report. The information was withheld to the public last week due to the pending investigation by the sheriff's office, he said.

Stone declined to give any details about what type of item was used as a weapon to beat Todd to death, which according to a press release is being investigated as a homicide.

The cause of death would explain why neighbors in the area told deputies after the crime they did not hear any gunshots fired, despite the closeness of neighboring homes. Additionally, investigators were unable to recover any shell casings at the home.

On Friday, members of the Homicide Task Force checked the sides of the roadway along state Route 45 south of Todd's home at the corner of Salmar Drive toward the area of the road known as ski slope hill. It is unknown if the weapon or any evidence was discovered during that time.

At least three search warrants were requested in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court early last week. It is not known if any or all of them are involved in this case.

Detectives with the sheriff's department continued with interviews on Monday and are looking at a person of interest, but no arrest reportedly has been made.



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