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Published: Friday, 7/17/2009

Judge sets $1M bond for suspect in fatal attack

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rowe Rowe
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Eight months after Bette Sue Rios was assaulted and her husband beaten to death in their Seneca County home, Mrs. Rios said she was encouraged that an arrest has been made in the case.

"It's a start. It's a beginning," Mrs. Rios said yesterday. "It's just a beginning."

Erica Rowe, 22, who has lived in Clyde and Bellevue but had no known address, was arrested Wednesday in Erie County after her indictment the same day. A Seneca County grand jury indicted Ms. Rowe on charges of complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated burglary, complicity to aggravated robbery, and complicity to felonious assault stemming from the Nov. 2 attack on Frank and Bette Sue Rios at their Green Springs home.

Mr. Rios, 80, was beaten in the head with a blunt object and died the next day at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, Toledo. Mrs. Rios, now 70, also was struck but was not seriously injured.

"I hid," Mrs. Rios recalled. "I ducked under the bed. I don't even remember doing it, but when they left that's where I was. I was hit several times and I guess I just went to the floor. Just like they say, you're trying to protect yourself."

Ms. Rowe appeared in Seneca County Common Pleas Court yesterday afternoon where Judge Steve Shuff set bond at $1 million. Held in the Seneca County jail, she is scheduled to be arraigned July 23 before Judge Shuff.

Seneca County Sheriff Tom Steyer and County Prosecutor Derek Devine declined to comment on the specific allegations against Ms. Rowe. Mr. Devine said only that the investigation was still "active and ongoing."

Complicity charges imply a suspect did not act alone, and Sheriff Steyer said his office anticipates additional arrests.

"Eventually," he said. "How soon? We do not know."

Mrs. Rios said she did not know the suspect arrested this week. She said she continues to live in the home where the attack occurred.

"A lot of people don't understand that, but it's home to me," she said.

She said her physical wounds have healed, but the attack left emotional scars. "You just kind of live scared," Mrs. Rios said. "You don't really get over it. When you hear noises, you wonder if someone is out there. Noises didn't used to bother me."

Despite the long period that has passed since the home invasion, Sheriff Steyer said the case has remained a priority.

"Detective Sergeant [Kevin] Reinbolt has been actively working since November, not constantly, but as things developed he continued following up," the sheriff said. "He had numerous interviews with various people that eventually led to this indictment."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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