Police: Homicide suspect had help removing body

Kenneth Martell

Investigations into the death of an 88-year-old man at his Crawford County home on Monday and the fatal shooting of his accused killer by police in Illinois on Thursday continue.

Kenneth Martell, 36, who is listed in court records as being from the Cochranton area, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Theodore Garver, of Springboro.

According to Trooper Cynthia Schick, a public information officer with state police in Erie, investigators are processing evidence and verifying the accuracy of testimony by witnesses – the same people who helped Martell hide the victim’s body.

“One of the individuals involved with removing the body put a call in to Meadville city police that someone may have been killed,” Schick said Friday.

However, Schick said, no charges so far have been filed against the witnesses, who may have been unwilling accomplices.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, a friend and family member of Martell described being forced at gunpoint to help him clean up the crime scene early Tuesday morning.

The complaint said Martell arrived at his mother’s Cochranton-area home, where he assaulted both his mother and a man before forcing them into a vehicle at gunpoint.

Martell’s mother told police they went to a Springboro house, where she saw a body bound to a rocking chair sitting in a bathtub, the complaint said. Martell told them that he had intended to rob the victim but ended up killing him, the complaint said.

Martell’s mother said her son made the man help him move the body from the chair to the bathroom floor, and then they then drove the victim’s car to drop off the man, the complaint said.

The complaint said Martell arrived at the home of a Meadville man at about 1 a.m., told him that he needed help and that they were going to take a ride. The man told police he rode with Martell and his mother to the Springboro house, where he helped Martell place the body in the back of the victim’s car, the complaint said.

His mother told police they drove a short distance and that Martell placed Garver’s body in a pond, the complaint said.

The complaint said they then drove to Conneaut, Ohio, to buy cigarettes before returning to the home of Martell’s mother, where they burned the victim’s clothes and the blanket he was wrapped in.

Around 7:20 a.m., state troopers checked Garver’s residence and found a rocking chair, duct tape and blood, and at about 11 a.m., police found Garver’s body in the pond, the complaint said.

Martell was charged with criminal homicide and was reported to be at large for two days after the incident.

At about 5 a.m. Thursday, a Lakemoor, Illinois, police officer approached a suspicious vehicle that was occupied by a man later identified as Martell, according to a news release from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force. At some point during the encounter, Martell produced a handgun and a struggle ensued.

A second officer arrived and noticed Martell had a second handgun, according to the news release. One of the officers fired, and Martell was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The Lake County coroner confirmed the identity of Martell and said preliminary autopsy results indicate he died of a gunshot wound to the face.