SANDUSKY —Seven months after being released from prison on an involuntary manslaughter charge, police arrested Curtis Clinton for allegedly killing a 23-year-old woman and her two young children.
Clinton, 41, of 2027 Campbell St., is charged by Sandusky police with three counts of murder and one count of rape. Clinton was being held in the Erie County jail tonight, awaiting his arraignment at 9 a.m. today in Sandusky Municipal Court.
Police said the rape charge is unrelated to the killings, but declined to comment on the case.
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Police said at a news conference today that Clinton met Heather Jackson about five months ago.
Mrs. Jackson was found dead on Saturday, her body jammed between a mattress and a bed frame inside the John Street house she started to rent about a week prior.
Her two children, Celina, 3, and Wayne Jr., 18 months, were found dead inside a closet.
“They were friends,” said Sandusky police Lt. John Orzech. “ … He just said he was an acquaintance and visited her from time-to-time.”
Mrs. Jackson’s brother, Nick Fee, 37, of Sandusky, said no one in the family knows or has ever heard of Clinton.
“I’m not even sure how she became acquainted,” he said.
Mr. Fee said he and his family intend on being in court today for Clinton’s arraignment.
“I’ve never been this angry in my life,” Mr. Fee said. “He’s got a rape case from a week ago. Why wasn’t he incarcerated already? At least on a parole violation. He was on parole. Our justice system allowed him to run the streets.”
Clinton, at the time of his arrest, was under supervision by the Adult Parole Authority after serving 13 years in prison for assault and involuntary manslaughter.
Mr. Fee said police have not discussed a motive with the family, but “the why doesn’t make a bit of difference now. There was a tragic loss of life and nothing... can ever change any of that.”
The lieutenant declined to comment on what Clinton said during interviews with police, but said the suspect “came to light” during the investigation.
Police also believe, at this point, that Clinton acted alone in the killings.
Police picked up Clinton from Bellevue Hospital this afternoon after learning he was there; police said he was there for a medical complaint unrelated to the killings, though they declined to say why he sought treatment.
Mr. Fee said several donation sites for the family have been set up around Sandusky — contributions can be made at Needle Dick’s Tattoo Parlor, 234 Columbus Ave., in Sandusky, and at any Citizen’s Bank.
Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, 1 to 3 p.m., and 5 to 7 p.m., with services following, at Toft Funeral Home, 2001 Columbus Ave.
On Feb. 4, Clinton was released from prison after pleading guilty in 1999 in Wood County Common Pleas Court in the death of Misty Keckler, 18, and two unrelated counts of assault. He was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison — the maximum he could receive — for the charges.
Clinton was originally charged with one count of murder, which carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said his office had given Erie County authorities as much information as they had on Clinton from its 1997 case.
“We prosecuted the case as diligently as we could and kept him in prison for as long as we could,” he said, adding that no one could have foreseen what happened in Sandusky.
“We find it painful that he would allegedly be involved in a similar act of killing a young lady and obviously it’s indescribable to include the children,” Mr. Dobson said.
According to The Blade’s archives, Clinton — then 28 — claimed he did not intend to kill Miss Keckler, who was strangled at her friend’s trailer on April 3, 1997.
The assault charges were filed after Clinton struggled with deputies at the Wood County jail, biting one of them on the hand.
Officials testified that Miss Keckler, of Fostoria, was strangled, her hands then tied behind her back, her feet bound, and her naked body submerged face down in a bathtub.
Prosecutors said Clinton killed the girl because she was trying to hide his 14-year-old girlfriend. Defense attorneys said Miss Keckler died during a “sexual misadventure.”
Prosecutors said during the trial that Clinton was known to choke women during, or for refusing sex.
Clinton apologized to Miss Keckler’s family prior to sentencing, saying her death was “unintentional.”
“I never intended for her to die and neither did she,” he said.
Blade staff writer Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.