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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Coroner says drugging not likely in slaying

Prescription medication found at 'therapeutic' levels in couple

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub were discovered bound with plastic bags tied over their heads in Springfield Township in January. Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub were discovered bound with plastic bags tied over their heads in Springfield Township in January.
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It is "unlikely" that the young couple found bound with plastic bags over their heads in Springfield Township in January were drugged by their killers, Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick said.

Toxicology reports, which were released Tuesday, showed Johnny Clarke, 21, had either Percocet or Oxycontin and marijuana in his system. Lisa Straub, 20, had either Percocet or Oxycontin and Vicodin in her system, Dr. Patrick said.

In both Clarke and Ms. Straub the drugs were at "therapeutic levels," with nothing suggesting overdose-type levels, the coroner said.

Although the test does not show what dosage was taken or when, Dr. Patrick said the drugs were probably ingested "a few hours" before they died. "If your thesis is that somebody drugged them and then did this to them, that's unlikely," Dr. Patrick said.

No more tests are expected, Dr. Patrick said.

Clarke's mother, Maytee Vasquez-Clarke, said her son was issued a prescription for Percocet on Dec. 17 for pain from a knee injury he had suffered while playing football at Bowsher High School. Mrs. Vasquez-Clarke said the doctor, whom she did not name, would not confirm the prescription for The Blade.

It is unknown whether Ms. Straub had a prescription for either drug.

Although the coroner said it is unlikely the couple were drugged, Mrs. Vasquez-Clarke said she "doesn't believe that for a second." She said a third person was probably in the Longacre Lane home and perhaps slipped the drugs into the couple's drinks because taking prescription drugs was "out of character for both of them. They didn't take prescription drugs."

Mrs. Vasquez-Clarke said her son probably did have marijuana in his system.

"Every kid I know that age has dabbled with marijuana," she said. "They weren't messing with Oxycontin or Percocet."

Clarke would turn 22 on April 15, Mrs. Vasquez-Clarke said, speaking of her son's birthday in the present tense.

Mrs. Vasquez-Clarke said she calls the sheriff's office at least five times a day, every day, hoping detectives are closer to solving the case and making an arrest.

"I am probably their worst parent nightmare, but justice needs to prevail for these kids," she said. "Only God knows my pain."

The couple were found in the home of Ms. Straub's parents, Jeff and Mary Beth Straub, around 3:50 a.m. on Jan. 31. Clarke's wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape, while Ms. Straub's wrists were bound with duct tape. Both were asphyxiated with plastic bags tied around their necks. The young couple were house-sitting for Mr. and Mrs. Straub while they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in the Caribbean.

Mr. and Mrs. Straub are continuing to live day to day, hoping for case-cracking information to surface, said Jim Verbosky, Lisa Straub's uncle and family spokesman.

"Considering their lives have been thrown apart forever, the whole family, we're a pretty tight-knit family, and everybody's lives are obviously changed," Mr. Verbosky said. "Now we're hoping that something happens as far as, you know, an arrest or whatever, but we're going to continue to let the authorities do what they have to do."

Calls to officials at the Lucas County Sheriff's office for comment were not returned.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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