Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Hoover gets max term in 1981 murder
By Shelley Grieshop
ST. MARYS - Paul Leroy Hoover on Wednesday was ordered to serve at least seven years in prison for the grisly murder of an elderly farmer more than three decades ago.
Visiting Judge Reginald Joseph Routson of Hancock County handed down the maximum sentence of seven to 25 years in prison, calling the crime a "savage and tragic death of a human being."
He said the victim, Marcellus J. Reineke, 71, of St. Marys, was beaten, bludgeoned and stabbed to death before his house was set on fire during a botched burglary in October 1981.
"No person should be forced to endure that," Routson said prior to sentencing in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court.
Authorities believe several suspects tortured Reineke in an attempt to get information on the location of money and valuables in his South West Street home where he lived alone.
Hoover, 53, when given the opportunity to make a statement in court, asked for forgiveness from the nearly dozen relatives of Reineke in the courtroom.
"I'm very sorry ... my heart goes out to them," said the Florida resident who formerly lived in St. Marys.
The apology didn't change the demand for justice by Reineke's family who spoke in court about their loss.
"My uncle was a farmer, a gentle man who had no enemies," niece Connie Schafer said. "He did not deserve to die in such a horrible manner. ... It's time for him (Hoover) to pay for his crime."
Nephew Bernie Reineke questioned how someone could harm such a good-hearted man as his uncle.
"Why would anyone torture and kill such a jolly and gentle man?" he asked, adding Marcellus Reineke's siblings, now deceased, were forever haunted by the horrific crime.
After the siblings died, their children continued to gather and talk about the unsolved murder, Bernie Reineke said.
"We carried this for over 30 years" while those who killed our uncle walked free, he said. "Our family looks for the full extent of justice to be served."
He thanked the St. Marys Police Department for their persistence in solving the cold case homicide.
Hoover was indicted in late December for aggravated murder and eventually extradited to Auglaize County from his home in Florida.
In April, he agreed to cooperate with authorities to locate "other persons involved" in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, the judge and assistant prosecutor noted in court.
The aggravated murder charge carried a penalty of life in prison. Hoover must serve seven years in prison; a parole board will annually determine the extent of his incarceration through the next 25 years, Routson explained.
Because the crime took place more than 32 years ago, the case was dubbed "old law," meaning penalties in place in Ohio at the time applied. The maximum sentence per current law would have netted Hoover a maximum of 11 years in prison.
Auglaize County Assistant Prosecutor Ben Elder called the conclusion of the case "a long, long road for the families."
"Not knowing for 30 years ... took its toll on each and every member of this family," Elder said, adding Hoover deserves the maximum term in prison.
Hoover's court-appointed attorney, Gerald Siesel, sympathized with the Reineke family for having to endure more than 32 years of "not knowing."
"Generations have come and gone since this event occurred," he said. "Mr. Hoover understands that there's nothing he can say here today to minimize their sorrow."
Siesel said he met Hoover for the first time when he represented him in court on a burglary offense five months after the murder. He is a different man now, he said.
"He was a young man, ill-educated, an alcoholic from a dysfunctional family" when I met him, he said.
He described Hoover years ago as a follower who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people."
He admitted his client in the last 30 years was convicted of several alcohol-related crimes, but noted he did not harm anyone else after participating in the killing of Reineke.
Also in court prior to Hoover's sentencing was another suspect in the Reineke murder. Tracy W. Mabry, 51, 8673 U.S. 33, Celina - who appeared without an attorney for the arraignment hearing - told Routson his family is in the process of raising funds to hire someone to represent him in court.
The judge reminded him an attorney could be appointed for him by the court at no cost, but Mabry said he intended to obtain his own. Routson agreed to a request by Mabry to delay the hearing for a maximum of 30 days.
Mabry was arrested May 1 and charged with aiding and abetting in aggravated murder. He pleaded not guilty to the charge two weeks later. He remains in jail on a $1 million cash bond.
Supporting Mabry in court on Wednesday were a half dozen relatives wearing red T-shirts with "Free the Trey" on the back and "Team Mabry, Wrongly Accused" on the front. No one wanted to comment when asked by the newspaper.
Authorities have said they continue to search for another suspect in the murder case.
County prosecutor Ed Pierce said Wednesday's sentencing will help bring closure to the victim's extended family. However, another area family still waits for answers, he said.
"Auglaize County has an unsolved homicide. Roger Parent was murdered in rural St. Marys at P&S Carryout on Dec. 29, 1978.
Someone out there has tidbits of information that could help solve the case and bring closure to his family," Pierce said.
Anyone with information about the cold case is asked to call the sheriff's office at 419-739-6565.