Killer gets life

A 29-year-old West Farmington man said nothing as he was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the murder of his stepfather and stabbing his own mother in the neck.

Thomas Starr, who confessed to a police dispatcher while he was wandering in the woods shortly after the two June 22 stabbings, had been held in lieu of $1 million bond. He never really gave authorities a clear motive for the murder and the attack on his mother.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, attempted murder and felonious assault and would be eligible for parole after serving 30 years, according to assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker.

”You have a lot of time and soul-searching to do,” Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan told Starr before he was removed from the courtroom.

Starr, of Greenville Road, was arrested shortly after stabbing to death Jeffrey Westfall, 53, of Southington. Investigators found Westfall dead near the front porch of his home on state Route 305, three quarters of mile west of U.S. Route 422. His throat had been slit.

Starr’s mother, Lisa Frye, 46, was found on the road, stabbed but alive. She was flown by helicopter to a Cleveland hospital. Frye lived at the home with Westfall.

Starr was initially charged with the felony murder, but after hearing additional evidence, the grand jury determined that Westfall’s death was premeditated and increased Starr’s charges to aggravated murder, which call for prior calculation and design in the killing.

On the night of the killing, a man identifying himself as Starr called the Trumbull County 911 Dispatch Center at 10:14 p.m. and told the operator that he tried to kill his stepfather, Jeff, and his mother, Lisa, with a knife. He told dispatchers he ran into woods behind the home before making the call.

Dispatchers worked on talking him out of the woods in a series of phone calls over the next 75 minutes. Starr became lost for a while while cruisers honked and a helicopter lit up the night to lead the way.

Starr finally found his way out of the woods, while police used dogs and searchlights to help find him.

”We still don’t know the motive. We probably never will,” said Danielle Havlock, Westfall’s daughter.

She told Starr in court that Westfall treated him as his own child. ”He gave you everything!”

”We’re still wondering why. He’s my brother. He had his moments. I really don’t want to be around when he gets out (of prison),” said Mitchell Westfall, the victim’s son.

”My dad was the rock. He took T.J. (Starr) in. We’re still very distraught. But we’re happy this is over,” said Megan Hunt, Westfall’s daughter.