CELINA — Almost 10 months ago, Mercer County Sheriff Deputies were called to investigate a double homicide at a residence east of Fort Recovery. Inside, the bodies of Robert Grube and his caretaker daughter, Colleen, were found bound with duct tape and shot to death. To date, the case remains under investigation, but is an unsolved homicide case.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey speaks about the Grube murder case at a press conference Thursday morning as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine looks on
The Grube case is far from the only murder case that is unresolved in Ohio. More than 5,000 deaths across the state are officially unsolved. Now, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants to expand the database in an effort to get more information.
“The stories are really what get me. The individuals, the family members who do not have answers,” DeWine related. “All these people deserve justice. From my early days as a county prosecuting attorney working with victims, I learned that for families who lost a loved one being murdered, there’s really never closure. We use that term, and it’s kind of an absurd term. I would think that the part of grief and part of the inability to deal with it has to be for those families who don’t have an answer to ‘Who killed my loved one?’ and “Why did they kill them?’”
To that end, DeWine reported that his office is putting a new emphasis on getting a database expanded to include all 5,153 cold cases involving homicide in Ohio. He noted that he decided to make the announcement in Mercer County because of the Grube case.
“The Sheriff and his team have done an absolutely fantastic job on this case, but this case remains unsolved today,” he explained.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey pointed out that the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has been a big help all during the investigation of the Grube murders.
Grey noted, “From the very first day we got the call on this case, and when deputies arrived and found out what they had, we backed out and called BCI’s Crime Lab. We’re a small office. We don’t have our own crime lab. BCI sent people right away to help with the crime scene, collect evidence from the crime scene, and work alongside our detectives.” He went on to say that the BCI investigators worked with the Mercer County investigators in rehashing the evidence and following up leads.
Grey even mentioned that he had received a phone call from DeWine early in the process to make sure the Mercer County staff was getting as much assistance as possible to conduct the investigation.
Grey also stated that the help given by the state has kept this case open. “Although today, we don’t have that crime solved, I still have a very positive outlook that we’re going to find Robert and Colleen’s killers because of the cooperative effort. Here we are over nine months later, and we’re still getting information. Agent Davis and Sgt. Timmerman are still working the case, and not a week goes by that they don’t tell me of new information that they have, new tips, and new leads. Those are things that without the cooperation and working together of state agency and local agency, this case may have been in a box on a shelf at this point,” he admitted.
Along with that, Grey noted that the reward money being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers has grown from $10,000 to $20,000.
“So we want people to know there is reward money out there to help us solve this case,” Grey said, noting the additional attention being generated by DeWine making his announcement in Celina. “Hopefully we’ll be able to have another press conference someday in the future explaining that we captured the killers.”
DeWine explained that he has been involved with this case throughout the investigation and is quite familiar with Mercer County, so he wanted to come to Celina to announce his new initiative about unsolved homicides. He noted that while every murder is a tragedy, such crimes hit rural areas especially hard due to the unexpectedness of the events.
The database was actually begun several years ago by BCI, but the process has been slow. At present only 166 murder cases are on the website, but that will soon change with the addition of 445 cold cases from the files of the Dayton Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
“We have a long, long way to go,” conceded DeWine.
Currently, the crimes range from 2011 murders like the Grube case back to the 1964 shooting death of a Hamilton County gas station night attendant. DeWine is asking for the rest of Ohio’s law enforcement agencies to enter information on their unsolved homicide cases into the database, a process DeWine said takes only about ten minutes.
“I am sending out a letter today to 17,000 law enforcement partners, every sheriff in the state and every chief of police, asking them to assist us, assist themselves, and assist the public by entering this information,” the attorney general declared. Since participation is purely voluntary, he knows that not every single case will make it into the database anytime soon, but he wants to get as many entered as possible to try to generate more tips and more information. He pointed out that BCI could help local agencies with special investigations units, a crime scene unit to identify evidence for submission to the lab, a crime lab to analyze evidence, a criminal intelligence unit to digitize and preserve case files, and a cyber crimes unit to examine electronic devices like cell phones.
In addition, DeWine said his office plans to highlight one cold case each month, giving it special publicity through the media and petitioning the public for any possible new leads. He believes help can be found in a more complete database.
“We want to dramatically expand that database,” he declared. “Those of us in law enforcement have an obligation to the victims, to the victims’ families, to do everything in our power to solve these cases.”