A 17-year-old Wadsworth High School student was arrested Monday in connection with the death of 98-year-old Margaret Douglas.
Police said Douglas’ body was discovered April 9 in a closet in her home, concealed by various items and clothing. It is believed she died April 6 in the early morning hours.
Wadsworth Police Lt. Dave Dorland said while police are still waiting for the autopsy results and an official cause of death, it is believed Douglas was strangled.
“Just based on investigation, we believe that her cause of death was strangulation,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Dorland said the juvenile suspect “lived relatively close by to her. From what we have been able to determine, he did have some interaction with her a couple years ago.”
At one point, the teen approached Douglas at her home to see if she needed help with yard work or home repairs, Dorland said.
While there were no signs of forced entry at Douglas’ home in the 300 block of Portage Street, Dorland said Douglas was known to keep her doors unlocked.
“I think any entry would have been easy to just go in through one of the doors,” he said.
Dorland said at first there did not appear to be any visible signs of trauma to Douglas’ body.
“It wasn’t until we had a detective that was present during the autopsy and received information from the doctor who performed the autopsy as to what actually did kill her,” Dorland said.
According to a Tuesday police statement, the teen was at a “Cleveland area location” when Wadsworth police detectives were notified of his possible involvement in Douglas’s death, and the boy was taken into custody at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
The case has been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office, “who will determine the exact charges to file against the suspect.”
Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said Tuesday he was “not ready” to say whether the teen, who is being held at the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center, might be tried as a juvenile or an adult.
Douglas was reported missing by an out-of-town relative April 9, who learned Douglas’ friends had not been in contact with her since April 3, police said.
Police discovered Douglas’ body later the evening of April 9 during a second search of her home.
Her death was determined to be suspicious at the onset and was treated as a homicide case, police said.
Douglas’ body was taken to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office at the direction of Medina County Coroner Dr. Lisa Deranek.
Deranek refused to comment on the case Tuesday, citing she had not seen the autopsy report.
Organizations that assisted Wadsworth police in the investigation included the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Medina County Coroner’s Office, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office.
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