Michael Fay in Putnam County Court pleads guilty on Tuesday to the deaths of Blake and Blaine Romes. He told police they argued over his older brother’s plan to move back into the home. Fay could get a chance to seek parole after 60 years in prison.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
OTTAWA, Ohio — An argument with Blake and Blaine Romes so angered Michael Aaron Fay that he drove 25 miles to fetch a handgun from storage, then returned to their Ottawa home, where he shot both teenagers as they slept, an assistant prosecutor said.
Three weeks before his scheduled trial, Fay, 18, admitted Tuesday to Putnam County Common Pleas Judge Randall Basinger that he killed Blaine, 14, and Blake, 17, on May 9 after they argued about Fay’s older brother moving back into the home.
Fay, who was 17 when he committed the crimes, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder. In exchange, prosecutors said they will dismiss two counts of abuse of a corpse and single counts of tampering with evidence and motor vehicle theft.
Judge Basinger accepted his pleas and ordered a presentence investigation. Fay, held in lieu of $5 million bond at the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center since his arrest, could be sentenced to prison for life without possibility of parole.
But Todd Schroeder, the assistant county prosecutor, said that as part of the plea deal, he will recommend a sentence that would allow Fay to go before the parole board after serving 60 years.
Because he was a juvenile when he killed the teens, Fay was not eligible to face the death penalty for the murders.
Blaine was shot once in the head while he slept on a couch. His brother died after he was strangled, assaulted, and shot in the head while he slept in a bedroom of the home.
Mr. Schroeder told the court that Fay and the Romeses exchanged words in the late hours of May 8 while Fay’s mother, Victoria Fay, and the victims’ mother, Michelle Grothause, were working.
Fay remained angry after the brothers fell asleep, Mr. Schroeder said, and shortly after midnight he left the Elkcrest Trailer Court and drove Ms. Grothause’s vehicle to Lima, Ohio, where he visited a Taco Bell and the storage facility where Ms. Fay stored a 22-caliber handgun. He then returned to the trailer.
“He continued to be angry over the argument that occurred hours before. The defendant sat at the residence with the firearm in his hands and had made the decision to use it. At approximately 2:18 in the morning, as a train passed by, the defendant used that opportunity to use that firearm. When the train whistle blew, the defendant fired a single shot into the head of Blaine Romes,” Mr. Schroeder said.
Mr. Schroeder said Fay then went to the bedroom. There he assaulted and strangled Blake and shot him in the head. He said the crimes were committed with calculation and design.
Ms. Grothause wept as Mr. Schroeder recounted the events that Fay gave to police in a confession after he was arrested later that day in Columbus.
Investigators said Fay carried both teens from the home. He hid Blake’s body in a crawl space under the trailer, and used the victims’ mother’s vehicle to transport Blaine’s body to a ditch near Putnam County Road 7 just east of Ottawa.
Responding to a call on an Amber Alert issued for all three teens, Columbus police took Fay into custody at a gas station. Investigators said he initially lied about what happened to the Romes boys, but eventually admitted to killing them and gave information leading police to the bodies.
Mr. Schroeder said in an interview that Fay and his older brother moved into the home with Ms. Grothause and her sons in April, and the older Fay decided to move out several days before the murders.
“There was disagreement about whether or not he should come back to the residence,” he said.
Mr. Schroeder said he talked to Ms. Grothause about the plea agreement reached with Fay and his attorney, William Kluge, and said that she will give a statement at sentencing that would explain her feelings.
He said that if Judge Basinger accepts the sentence recommendation, Fay will be 78 before he may request release from prison.
“I thought that the higher sentence was appropriate, given the nature of the offenses. At the end of the day, Mr. Fay pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of two teenage boys who had a lot of promise ahead of them. They were well liked. They did well in school,” he said. “Consecutive sentences are needed to adequately address what occurred in this case.”
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.