OTTAWA, Ohio — After finding her sons missing and a strange handgun and blood in her home, Michelle Grothause frantically told a sheriff’s dispatcher to send police to her house.
“I need a deputy to come out to my house. ... We have three children that are missing. There is blood in my house. There is a gun in my house and my car is missing,” Ms. Grothause said in the phone call she made at 5:30 a.m. May 9.
She was so distraught during the call that she couldn’t recall her sons’ ages.
■ READ: redacted PDF of the events from the Putnam County Sheriff's call sheet
In the ensuing investigation, her sons, Blaine Romes, 14, and Blake Aaron Romes, 17, and Michael Aaron Fay, 17, who also lives in the trailer on North Perry Street, and the Chevrolet HHR owned by Ms. Grothause became the subject of an Amber Alert.
The Fay youth, who is the son of Ms. Grothause’s partner, was arrested later that day in Columbus at a gas station with the car.
Nearly 12 hours after deputies took Ms. Grothause’s phone call, they found the bodies of the Romes brothers, one in a ditch on a county road outside the village and the other in a crawl space under the trailer.
In the call released by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, Ms. Grothause said she left her job at an Ottawa appliance factory and went home after she was unable to reach her sons by phone.
She said she found the trailer empty as well as blood and a handgun that didn’t belong there.
Ms. Grothause said in the call on the nonemergency line that she doesn’t own a gun, but she believed it belonged to her partner’s former boyfriend and that the weapon had been put in storage.
Sheriff’s office phone logs released Wednesday also show that authorities feared the worst after stepping into the family trailer and seeing the crime scene.
The investigation and search for the teens quickly spread outside the village and county.
Shortly before 6 a.m., police began calling hospitals to see if the teenagers had been taken to emergency rooms because of the amount of blood found in the trailer.
Looking for Ms. Grothause’s silver HHR, officers went to a home on State Rt. 15 and another residence in Elida, Ohio.
A storage locker business in the Allen County community also was searched because the handgun found in the trailer had been stored there.
In a 6:30 a.m. posting, police asked for a canine tracking unit because “muddy clothes” were found in the trailer.
“Could turn into a possible homicide investigation,” according to the call sheet posting at 7 a.m., four hours before the department issued the Amber Alert.
Officers talked to the superintendent of Ottawa-Glandorf Schools, where the Romes brothers attended classes, and to the Fay youth’s high school in Elida, the report said.
Police called authorities in Logan County, Ohio, to send officers to a campground to look for the vehicle.
Other law enforcement agencies were sent to look for the HHR at roadside rest areas in Delaware County, north of Columbus.
After the Fay youth and the vehicle were found in Columbus, the dispatch log said authorities were notified to “check for bodies, not just people walking around.”
In her call to the sheriff’s office, Ms. Grothause told the dispatcher she was en route back to her residence after picking up Vickie Fay, who is her partner and the mother of the Fay youth.
The women, who live together, work the night shift at the Whirlpool plant in Ottawa.
Blaine Romes, who was an eighth grader at the elementary in Ottawa, was supposed to be at the elementary in nearby Glandorf to join classmates for a trip to Washington.
She told the dispatcher that she went home after she couldn’t reach him on the phone.
So far, the Fay youth is only charged with delinquency in connection with grand theft for allegedly stealing the HHR that was taken from the trailer.
He pleaded not guilty during a hearing Friday in Putnam County Juvenile Court.
Gary Lammers, Putnam County prosecutor, said he planned to meet this week with investigators to review reports and the case file, and that his office could pursue additional charges, possibly early next week.
Mr. Lammers has not provided a motive for the crimes.
Contact Mark Reiter at: email@example.com or 419-724-6199.