LISBON - After filing a wrongful death civil lawsuit in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, the family of Gerald Klusch issued a press release this week asking for people to continue cooperating with the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department's ongoing investigation into his murder.
"We recently filed a case against the individual whom we believe shot Gerald and the others who aided him," the press release read. "We are filing now because otherwise the limited time we have to bring our own case would expire."
In Ohio, the family of wrongful death victims have two years to file a civil lawsuit. Leah Klusch, the widow of Gerald Klusch, filed the lawsuit last Friday, Sept. 27. Gerald Klusch disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011.
"September 29th 2013 was the second anniversary of the brutal murder of Gerald Klusch," the family said in the release. "We dearly miss and grieve the loss of our husband, father, grandfather and friend. The anniversary is made more painful by the reminder that his killer is free and walks the streets."
However, the family noted, the civil case is not a substitute for the criminal investigation which is still being conducted by the sheriff's department and the criminal prosecution of the person or people responsible by prosecutor's office.
"We have complete confidence in the sheriff and the prosecutor and realize that the government's case has a different track through the justice system, different requirements and a different timeline," the family said.
The family asked that no matter how small the information, people can continue to contact the sheriff's department detective, Lt. Andy Sweeney, at 424-7255. The family continues to offer a $20,000 reward for reliable, new information leading to an arrest and conviction.
The civil lawsuit filed by Leah Klusch last week claim Matthew Bailey, a farmhand who was the last person who saw her husband alive, was responsible for his death. According to the lawsuit, Bailey shot Klusch, 71, either intentionally or in a negligent act, then either on his own or with another person transported Klusch's body to a remote location.
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.
Bailey, 34, East Liverpool, is currently 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 is charged with illegal possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs for alleged items to create methamphetamine.
Bond in the criminal case was set at $50,000 personal recognizance and is scheduled for a jury trial in mid-December.