Suspect: I wasn’t home

WARREN – It was shortly after police arrived at the murder scene in Howland at a Howland Springs Road home Dec. 18 that officers said they immediately became suspicious of the story that Bradley Milligan was telling them.

Milligan told them he had left the home three days earlier and only arrived back there moments before the police did. He said his sister Laura Michael also left the home that they both shared about the same time, and he wasn’t sure where she was.

But one of Michael’s daughters told Howland police Sgt. Jeff Urso that Milligan, 48, was seen driving her mother’s car around town, and she never allowed him to use the car. That’s why she alerted police in the first place.

Once inside the house, the daughter, Katina Baragona, told the officer her mother’s tobacco and purse were still there and her mother would have never left that behind if she left, police said.

During a subsequent search of the house, Milligan reluctantly turned over a key to his basement bedroom, where Michael, 51, was found wrapped in a light colored blanket on the floor, according to an affidavit that was unsealed Thursday after Milligan pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in the death of his sister.

Howland Detective Justin Soroka, who drafted the affidavit, said he learned from the coroner that Michael suffered extensive blunt force trauma to the face and cuts or slices to the face and neck.

Her clothes were soaked in blood and what appeared to be blood was found on carpeting that was cut from inside the house and put out in the garage, according to the detective’s affidavit that he used to get DNA samples from Milligan to match blood and other trace evidence at the scene.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice unsealed Soroka’s affidavit after Thursday’s arraignment.

The judge set bond a $1.5 million on two counts of aggravated murder and another charge of aggravated robbery, based on the fact that police located Michael’s 1996 tan-colored Ford Contour at the nearby Kmart parking lot and Milligan was seen driving the car. The two counts of murder both pertain to Michael, alleging different scenarios. Milligan could only be sentenced on one charge if he is ever convicted.

Police also removed a utility knife from the right right pocket of Milligan’s pants as he was showing them through the house. They also noticed a fresh cut on Milligan’s left hand.

Detectives also noticed blood on Milligan’s work boots and another one of Michael’s daughter said she stopped at the house and noticed the Contour parked outside. No one let her in after she knocked on the windows.

After Milligan was questioned, it became clear that Michael’s car and Milligan were at the house Dec. 15 and 16 about the time the coroner fixed the time of Michael’s death, the affidavit states.

Detectives also discovered a call Michael made to a friend Dec. 16, telling her that her brother was ”on a roll,” meaning he had become agitated. The same friend told detectives Milligan also called her more than once claiming he ”was done” and that he was planning on killing himself.

Milligan had a history of abusing his sister and was convicted of domestic violence in 2012 after Michael told police he had assaulted and threatened to kill her. Police and relatives said he had lived with his sister “off and on” for the past two years.