Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grandson Suspect in Death of Russell Woman
January 30, 2014 by Cassandra Shofar | No Comments

The grandson suspected of killing his paternal grandmother in Russell Township was apprehended early last Wednesday morning in Geauga County on a probation violation, said…

The grandson suspected of killing his paternal grandmother in Russell Township was apprehended early last Wednesday morning in Geauga County on a probation violation, said Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz.

Clayton Phillips, 18, was taken into police custody at a home on Lake Shore Drive in Little Punderson in Newbury Township around 1:45 a.m., according to a release by Russell Township Chief Timothy Carroll.

The Northern Ohio Fugitive Task Force a collaborative district-wide law enforcement effort spearheaded by the U.S. Marshals Service assisted by the Geauga County Sheriffs Office, apprehended Clayton.

Clayton has not been charged in connection with the death of his grandmother, Ruth Phillips, 81, who was found stabbed to death in the basement at her home, 8419 Cloveridge Road, Tuesday night.

The investigation is still pending, Flaiz said, adding Clayton was arraigned via video in Chardon Municipal Court last Wednesday morning on a probation violation. He was silent throughout the arraignment.

Municipal court probation officer Ray Gandolf told Chardon Municipal Court Judge Terri Stupica that under the terms of Claytons probation, he was required to complete and follow the recommendations of a jail treatment program, which included counseling.

I have received information as well as an admission from the defendant that he has failed to follow all of the recommendations set forth in the jail treatment program, Gandolf said.

Stupica found probable cause that Clayton had violated his probation and ordered him held without bond. She said he would be brought back to court in about two weeks.

Clayton is currently being held at the Geauga County Safety Center in Munson Township, said Geauga County Sheriffs Office Lt. John Hiscox.

He had been sent to Russell Township from Texas last year to live with his paternal grandmother, several sources told the Maple Leaf.

Geauga County Coroner Bob Coleman arrived on scene around 9 p.m. last Tuesday night. The cause and manner of her death is still under investigation, he said.

Ruth had reportedly taken in her troubled grandson, the only other resident in the house, in or around May of 2013. He was arrested in September for illegal use/possession of marijuana and unauthorized use of a vehicle and theft, according to court records.

Although the amount of the theft warranted a felony charge, Clayton was convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor theft as well as unauthorized use of a vehicle, according to court records.

He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 120 of the days suspended, on each count with the time to run consecutively. He was ordered to attend counseling and to pay restitution to his grandmother in the amount of $584 by March 31, 2014.

Clayton also was placed on one-year probation, which was scheduled to end on Nov. 6, 2014.

He served his jail time starting Sept. 23 and was released Monday morning, Hiscox said.

A friend of Ruths had been trying to reach her since Monday night and became concerned for her welfare, according to Flaiz.

The female friend called the sheriffs office at 6:48 p.m. to request a welfare check on Ruth. She said she had spoken to Clayton on the phone several times and he was giving conflicting reasons why his grandmother could not come to the phone, according to the call log.

Two Russell Township police officers responded, entered the residence and found Ruth dead, Chief Carroll said. Neither Ruth nor Claytons vehicles were at the residence, so police began a search that eventually led to Claytons apprehension. It is believed Clayton fled in Ruths vehicle, which a neighbor said was a Buick.

Another neighbor described Ruth Phillips as a very nice lady and said Clayton cut her grass occasionally in the summer. But he also did not believe Clayton lived at her home all of the time.

Officers from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation were on scene last Tuesday night and early last Wednesday morning.

This is a developing story. Check for updates at

Additional reporting by John Karlovec

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