Death may be homicide
WARREN – Police were saying little about the Thursday afternoon discovery of a body at a home on the city’s southwest side except to confirm that they are investigating the death as a homicide.
Investigators found the body of Donald Jones, 56, about 3 p.m. after receiving reports of a foul odor coming from the small white house at 1003 Hemlock Ave. S.W.
On Friday, residents of the quiet neighborhood said they weren’t surprised there was a partially decomposed body inside the house. However, they were shocked to learn Jones may have been beaten to death with a blunt object.
“There’s been a bad smell coming from his house for about a week now, I’d say,” explained Nathan Cox, 21, who said he moved into the house next door about five months ago.
“It’d actually been about a week since we’d seen him. I didn’t really know him but you’d see him. Sometimes I’d see people over there, I think his brother or son or something. But he seemed to keep to himself a lot,” Cox said.
Warren police Lt. Jeff Cole said investigators believe Jones died from blunt force trauma.
“But we’re waiting for the results of the autopsy for an official ruling,” Cole said on Friday. “At this point, there’s really not a lot to say.”
No one else was in the home when police arrived. Cole said that as of Friday, police had no suspects and did not know what type of object or force may have been used to kill Jones.
The Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office confirmed the body had been transported there and that it was assisting with the investigation. However, the Trumbull County Coroner’s Office is overseeing the investigation.
Cole said he expected the autopsy to be completed by today. Attempts by a Tribune Chronicle reporter to reach the Trumbull County Coroner’s Office were not successful.
According to the Trumbull County Auditor’s website, the house is owned by Lawrence E. Jones J/S Patricia L. Jones of Warren. Neighbors said they believe Jones had a physical disability and that he lived by himself. They said he rode his bicycle regularly.
One neighbor, who did not want to be named, said he had lived across the street from Jones’ house for years.
“I knew of him, but I didn’t really know him well. His dad owned the house and he died a while back. I knew his dad and some of his relations. I’d see Donald riding his bike down the street. He was quiet. But this really is a very quiet neighborhood. Most of the people around here are retired and own their homes. There are a few rentals but not many. It’s always been a nice place to live.”
Another neighbor said Jones kept to himself, but would say “Hi” when he was out and about on his bike.
“You kind of got the impression something had happened because he hadn’t been around for several days. At least I hadn’t seen him. Neighbors were complaining about the smell, but I didn’t know if that was from an animal or what. It really is a shame.”
Cox, a Youngstown native, said he doesn’t consider Jones’ death a mark against the neighborhood.
“I feel bad now because I had even said to a few people, I wonder if there’s a body in there because of the smell,” he said. “It’s kind of a shock that there actually was one. It’s a shame something like this happened. But you know, it can happen anywhere.”