Suspects in court

WARREN – A judge set high bonds Friday on two accused murderers, each recently indicted on claims they stabbed their victims to death inside their own homes.

Richard Clark, 39, first described as homeless, and Patrick Lawson Heltzel, 20, from a prominent local family, also are both accused of aggravated robbery, but assistant prosecutors Chris Becker and Gabe Wildman declined to discuss what items were stolen from the murder scenes.

Both men appeared before Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan Friday to plead not guilty to charges incorporated in indictments handed down this week. Both men also face a maximum of life in prison with no chance of parole, according to the two prosecutors.

Clark, who also is charged with heroin possession, remains in Trumbull County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond. He appears April 25 before Judge Ronald Rice.

Prosecutors asked for and were granted a $2 million bond for Heltzel since they pointed out he left the state after the murder and is considered a flight risk. Logan was assigned Heltzel’s case and he set a pre-trial for April 23.

Clark, who also has ties to Columbiana County, is accused of stabbing Dwayne Hickman, 49, close to a dozen times last month. Warren police discovered Hickman’s body at his Williamsburg Street N.W., Warren, home on March 25 after a family member asked them to check on his welfare.

The Trumbull County Coroner’s Office confirmed Hickman died around March 19 of multiple stab wounds. His death was ruled a homicide.

Police initially arrested Clark on March 26 when they spotted Hickman’s vehicle, which Clark is accused of stealing, at a Maryland Street residence. However, because Clark was unconscious when police found him, he was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, where he remained under police watch.

Police took Clark into custody at the hospital on a felony drug possession warrant April 2. The next day, police charged him with Hickman’s murder.

Detectives said Hickman and Clark had a history, and that Clark had stayed at Hickman’s home periodically. More recently he lived on North Park Avenue.

Heltzel, of Atlantic Street N.E., is accused of killing 71-year-old Milton A. Grumbling III.

Police found Grumbling’s body April 4 inside his home at 4464 Kincaid East Road N.W., Warren Township.

Heltzel was charged with murder last week through a prosecutor’s complaint and was held without bond at the Guilford County Jail in North Carolina since officials there picked him up April 5. Warren Township police had issued an alert for him and a vehicle he took from his father, who was in court Friday along with other family members including his uncle, Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

Warren Township Lt. Don Bishop, who retrieved Heltzel from the Greensboro, N.C. area, has declined to elaborate on the case. Initially he said that evidence found at Grumbling’s home indicated his death was a homicide.

The day police found Grumbling, Bishop said the elderly man was known for helping disadvantaged people, especially youth. Although Grumbling lived alone, periodically he took people into his home.

Bishop said it is believed someone had been living with Grumbling when he died. It is not clear whether police believe that person was Heltzel.

Grumbling had been stabbed, including multiple wounds to the heart, according to an affidavit filed April 5 by Becker. He also had facial fractures and broken dentures, and a broken remote control was lying beneath his face, the document states.

It was discovered that Heltzel was in the Greensboro area, where his mother lives, and that Heltzel told her he had “stabbed an individual in Ohio named Milton,” according to the affidavit. His mother called Warren Township police, who previously had contacted her in their search for Heltzel, the document states.