Update: The mastermind of a murder-for-hire plot gone wrong was found guilty this week by a jury in Geauga County.
Joe Rosebrook will be sentenced soon on two charges of aggravated murder, two charges of kidnapping and one charge oc conspiracy.
Rosebrook ran his operation down in Logan County. It included all sorts of alleged criminal enterprises. Back in 2004, Rosebrook hired a man named Daniel Ott to kill an associate of his. Ott backed out of the deal and instead went to authorities and wore a wire. Rosebrook would be charged and convicted in that case, spending 10 years in prison.
During that time he hired a hitman, a career criminal by the name of Chad South, to kill Ott in retaliation.
South, along with the help of a couple of accomplices who have already pleaded guilty or been found guilty, killed a man named Dan Ott. It was not the Dan Ott who had helped land Rosebrook in prison. It was simply a man named Dan Ott who lived with this girlfriend and was days away from moving to Michigan to work at greenhouse.
The Dan Ott who was the intended target didn't live in Geauga County. He lived further south and was, in his own right, a career criminal in the truest sense — he's stolen upwards of a thousand cars in his nearly 80 years on this earth. We profiled his life and the case last summer.
Ten years after Ott's death, justice is finally being served. The case wasn't an easy one to crack — police spent nine years investigating and corralling cooperating witnesses — but it's all but over now.
Of all the participants, four have been found or pleaded guilty. The last remaining member of the crew, Joe's brother Jeff Rosebrook, who was the alleged moneyman, goes to trial in October.
(Updated 5/10/16): Two people, including the admitted triggerman, involved in the mistaken-identity murder of Dan Ott in 2006 have been found or have pleaded guilty in his death.
The quick catchup on the case: Dan Ott was murdered in his home in Geauga County just days before he was to move to Michigan. It was a targeted killing. The shooter(s) were after a guy named Dan Ott.
This was not the Dan Ott the killers were after, though, but they only found that out after the fact.
They were after a different guy, a now nearly 80-year-old man named Dan Ott from near Akron who's led a lengthy and colorful life of crime. Ott (the Akron guy) at one point helped cops nab Joe Rosebrook, a man Ott used to work with, on an attempted murder charge. Rosebrook, allegedly along with the help of his brother Carl (who cops tab as the moneyman while his brother was still in prison) sought a hit on Ott in retaliation.
The crew they hired for the job got the wrong guy and tragically ended the innocent man's life.
The case went unsolved for years and it wasn't until last summer that arrests were made and the long-suspected hypothesis of a murder-for-hire gone wrong via mistaken identity was confirmed.
Which brings us to this month.
Chad South, the triggerman, was found guilty by in a bench trial on two counts of murder and kidnapping earlier this month. More recently, 37-year-old Mindie Mock Stanifer pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping and obstruction of justice. Authorities believe she was in the car with South when he arrived at Ott's home.
Still to come: A trial for Alva Jacobs, who police also say was in the car, and trials for Joe and Carl Rosebrook.
(Original story 6/2/15): Three people have been arrested so far for the the killing of a man nine years ago in Burton Township, the News Herald first reported yesterday, and the Geauga County sheriff tells us more people associated with it will be arrested soon.
The 2006 murder of Daniel Ott, who was 31 at the time, was in a Scene feature story last month called "Northeast Ohio's 50 Most Frustrating Cold Cases." Here's what writer James Renner said about it (emphasis ours):
38. Why Was Dan Ott Murdered?
Crime Scene: Burton, May 26, 2006.
The Mystery: 31-year-old Dan Ott was about to move to Michigan to work at a greenhouse. Most of his belongings were already packed up and he was sleeping on an air mattress with his girlfriend when a masked man dressed in camouflage broke into their house on Claridon-Troy Road. The intruder bound Dan's hands together with duct tape. When Dan tried to fight back, the masked man shot him in the chest with a shotgun and fled the scene. Some investigators believe Dan's death was the result of mistaken identity, after a hitman was sent to kill another man named Dan Ott.
Send tips to Geauga County Sheriff's detectives: 440-279-2009.
We bolded the part about mistaken identity because that's what Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland believes to be the case. In a statement to Renner, McClelland says that's why this Daniel Ott was killed, and that some people out of state were also involved in his death:
We are in the stage of rounding up suspects right now. Three have been arrested, there will be more. In Ohio and outside of the state. It has been a long time coming. Meticulous investigation. It was taken to the prosecutor a couple weeks ago. We've been investigating this as a case of mistaken identity that led to murder and nothing about that has changed.
The names of those arrested have not been released yet, and the case has yet to be presented to a grand jury.