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Published: Friday, 10/28/2005

3 Toledoans face charges of slaying Waterville man

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three Toledoans who yesterday confessed to a set-up robbery that resulted in the beating death of a Waterville man also admitted to committing similar crimes, authorities said.

The trio was arrested and charged with the murder last week of 62-year-old James Steinhurst. Authorities used calls made by one of the suspects on the victim's cell phone, which was stolen during the assault, in their investigation.

Toledo police said one of the suspects took Mr. Steinhurst to her Orchard Street home for sexual favors, and her husband and boyfriend then beat and robbed him.

Arrested were Christina Morris; her husband, Jesse Morris, both 24 and of 739 1/2 Orchard, and Lonnie Scurles, 34, of 1820 Forest Ave. They were being held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $1 million bonds after arraignments on aggravated murder and aggravated robbery charges.

They declined requests for interviews with The Blade.

"We appreciate all the hard work and effort of the Waterville Police Department in apprehending the individuals responsible. The compassion showed to us by friends, family, and the whole Waterville community will never be forgotten by us. We hope that justice will be served," the Steinhurst family said last night in a statement.

Investigators believe that Mr. Steinhurst picked up Mrs. Morris on Broadway on Oct. 18, and that she took him to the Orchard residence for an act of prostitution, according to court records.

"[Mrs.] Morris planned ahead of time with Jesse Morris and Lonnie Scurles to rob victims brought to this location," the records indicate.

Mr. Steinhurst was assaulted by Mr. Morris and Scurles, and his cell phone and cash were taken. He drove to his Waterville home after the assault, Toledo police Capt. Ron Spann said.

He said Mr. Morris used the victim's cell phone to call Mr. Steinhurst's home later in the day. Mr. Steinhurst's wife answered, and Mr. Morris threatened her husband if he saw his wife anymore, the captain said.

Carol Steinhurst, the victim's wife, said last night she did not feel threatened by the man's call.

Captain Spann said Mrs. Steinhurst then left the house. Mr. Steinhurst was home and conscious at the time of the call. He later lost consciousness, and his daughter found him in the afternoon on the bathroom floor, unresponsive.

Mr. Steinhurst was flown by medical helicopter to the Medical University of Ohio Medical Center. He died the next day.

The county coroner's office said that Mr. Steinhurst had been beaten about the head and neck Oct. 18, and that he died from head injuries.

The captain said Mr. Steinhurst's wife is not a suspect in the case and there was no crime scene in Waterville.

Waterville police Chief Bob Selders could not be reached for comment yesterday.

He previously said that authorities determined that Mr. Steinhurst was not assaulted at his residence, but at an unknown location.

Captain Spann said more calls were made on Mr. Steinhurst's cell phone. When investigators tracked those called, they identified Mr. Morris as the caller.

The three suspects were arrested yesterday at Toledo police headquarters after being interviewed by detectives.

"They confessed and implicated themselves in three or four other robberies of this type," Captain Spann said.

He said the other robbery victims have not come forward and police have not found all of the reports pertaining to those crimes.

All the suspects have prior criminal records.

Scurles served prison time on a rape conviction in Lucas County. He was admitted to Mansfield Correctional Institution in November, 1989, on a 9 to 25-year sentence. He was paroled in July, 2003, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Scurles is registered in Lucas County as a sexually oriented offender. He was indicted in August by a Lucas County grand jury on robbery and theft charges. His bond was reset in September to supervised recognizance.

He and Mr. Morris also have misdemeanor and traffic convictions in Toledo Municipal Court.

Mrs. Morris has convictions in Municipal Court for a drug-related offense, loitering, and misdemeanor and traffic offenses. She also has a pending soliciting case.

Contact Christina Hall at

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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