OTTAWA, Ohio — A tearful Michael Aaron Fay on Monday told a courtroom filled with the family and friends of Blaine and Blake Romes that he loved the teenagers like they were his brothers and apologized for killing them.
“I took away two boys that could have done great things for their community, and without a doubt, in my mind they would have,” Fay, 18, said. “Blake and Blaine. You already know I love you with everything that is in my heart and I am sorry that I took you away from your mom, grandma, and grandpa, and everyone else.”
Putnam County Common Pleas Judge Randall Basinger sentenced Fay to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 60 years for the deaths of Blaine, 14, and Blake Romes, 17.
Judge Basinger told Fay that he was a “ruthless murderer,” and his actions of putting a gun to the two teenagers, hiding their bodies, and then lying to police was “chilling,” and appeared to be “remorseless.”
“The calculated and cold-blooded violence in this case is nearly incomprehensible. Your actions of May 9 are, simply put, premeditated murders of two sleeping, teenage victims. You committed a series of planned and ruthless acts,” he said before imposing the sentence. “The facts in this case clearly establish you present extreme danger to others and are not fit to live free in society in the foreseeable future.”
The sentence that will allow Fay to go before the parole board was recommended by prosecutors as part of a plea agreement Fay entered on Oct 14. Fay, who was 17 when he committed the crimes, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder.
Optional sentences available to Judge Basinger were life in prison without the possibility of parole or life sentences with the possibility of parole after 20 and 25 years for each murder.
Todd Schroeder, an assistant county prosecutor, said the killings followed an argument Fay had with Blaine and Blake over the defendant’s older brother moving back into the home that they shared with the victims’ mother, Michelle Grothause, in the Elkcrest Trailer Court.
After the exchange of words, Fay took the keys to Ms. Grothause’s vehicle and drove to Lima, where he bought food at the Taco Bell and got a gun from a storage locker that belonged to his mother.
According to the prosecutor, he returned to the mobile home, and, still angry about the argument hours earlier, put a 22-caliber handgun to Blaine’s head and fired a single bullet as he heard the train whistle on nearby railroad tracks.
Blake, who was sleeping in a bedroom, was then shot once in the head. However, Mr. Schroeder said the teen, still alive, was then strangled to death by Fay.
Fay carried both teens from the home. He hid Blake’s body in a crawl space under the trailer, and used the victims’ mother’s vehicle to transport Blaine’s body to a ditch near Putnam County Road 7 just east of Ottawa.
Responding to a call on an Amber Alert issued for all three teens, Columbus police took Fay into custody at a gas station. Investigators said he initially lied about what happened to the Romes boys but eventually admitted to killing them and gave information leading police to the bodies.
Judge Basinger told Fay the attempts to cover up the crime by disposing of the bodies and repeatedly lying to police about what happened were the actions of someone who appeared to be remorseless and psychopathic.
Many of the eight statements read to Judge Basinger by court victim advocates on behalf of the family of Blaine and Blake sought an explanation for why Fay murdered the teen brothers.
In a statement read by an advocate, Blaine and Blake’s mother said that Fay had opened up to her and her sons about abuse he had suffered as a young boy. Ms. Grothause said he was a “great kid,” who “hid his pain,” and should get help in prison for his emotional problems.
“Aaron had a lot of struggles in life that he could not overcome,” the advocate said. “Through all of this I have learned we need to pay more attention to our kids and look for warning signs.”
She said her sons and Fay became close in the year that he lived with her family and her sons treated Fay like a brother.
“I know by watching the boys over the last year that they loved each other, and I loved them,” the advocate said. “In my boys, Aaron found true friends, compassion, and love for other people.”
Before learning his sentence, Fay apologized to the community of Ottawa and to the victims’ mother and grandparents.
“To Shellie’s parents. I must say, I am sorry for what I put you through and what I have taken away from you,” he said. “To Shellie. I am sorry and I want to say thank you. Thank you for inviting me into your home and thank you for letting me into your heart. ... I am sorry for taking away what undeniably was your whole world. I want you to know these boys were your whole world. They were a big part of mine. They were the part that showed me what it meant to be real brothers.”
In statements read by another advocate, Cindy and Tim Grothause, the victims’ grandparents, asked the judge to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Mr. Grothause said Fay was a coward, liar, thief, and murderer, and he took away way two outstanding youngsters who were talented, kind, intelligent, and caring.
“I never knew I could have as much hatred as I have for you,” the advocate said. “You are not a good kid. Good kids do not murder defenseless sleeping kids like you did.”
In asking for lesser sentences of a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20 or 25 years, Fay’s attorney, William Kluge, said he didn’t have the answers to the family’s questions on why Fay killed the boys, but he wanted to help them understand the awful things in Fay’s past that may have caused his actions.
“What causes a young man like this to lash out like this and cause so much pain to so many people?” he asked.
Mr. Kluge said his client, as a young boy, had been molested by a relative on an almost daily basis, and that he was afraid to tell his mother about the abuse because he was ashamed and afraid he would be labeled as gay.
“The final diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder based on constant molestation, anxiety, and antagonizing over relationships, and depression,” he said. “Michael is a very badly damaged young man.”
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.