LISBON - Although no criminal charges has been filed in the death of Gerald G. Klusch, his widow has named the person she believes responsible, filing a civil lawsuit late Friday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Leah Klusch filed the suit claiming Matthew Bailey was responsible for his death. Bailey worked on the farm and was the last person who saw her husband alive,
According to the lawsuit, Bailey shot Klusch, 71, either intentionally or in a negligent act.
Additionally, it accused Bailey and potentially unnamed defendants of acting maliciously, being involved in the transportation of Klusch's body to a remote location, disposing of the weapon and concealing Bailey's alleged actions to avoid justice. It claims the death and coverup caused pain and suffering, not only to Gerald Klusch but to his wife and children.
The lawsuit seeks in excess of $250,000 for pain and suffering for Leah Klusch as the executrix of Gerald Klusch's estate, along with Klusch's children, Ryan and Katherine Klusch.
Part of the claims include funeral and burial expenses in the amount of $51,690.
In Ohio, wrongful death lawsuits allow for two years to file before the statute of limitations runs out. Gerald G. Klusch, who owned farmland and lived on U.S. Route 30, just west of Lisbon, disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011. Leah Klusch's lawsuit was stamped received by the clerk of courts on Sept. 27, 2013.
County Prosecutor Robert Herron said he had been aware Mrs. Klusch was considering filing the civil lawsuit, but chose not to comment further on her decision.
Likewise, Sheriff Ray Stone said he also had heard Leah Klusch intended the file the lawsuit. Stone said the case remains open and confirmed Bailey is one of the people the sheriff's department detectives have spoken to during the investigation.
When Klusch disappeared, Ryan Klusch called the sheriff's department on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, reporting the family had not seen Gerald Klusch since the day before. At that time, Ryan Klusch told deputies he had spoke to Bailey, who told him he was with his father until 1:30 p.m. that Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, when Klusch reportedly dropped Bailey off at his home, which was then on Dungannon Road.
Klusch's pickup was found later on Beacon Light Road with blood in the truck bed. The search for his body took longer. He was found on Nov. 18, 2011 on a wooded hillside off Hazel Run Road near the intersection with Clarks Mill Road outside of Salineville. Klusch's wallet and credit cards were found near the body.
The Summit County coroner's office confirmed his identification. In late January 2012, the death was ruled a homicide with two gunshot wounds to the head listed as the cause of death.