Pa. trooper arrests teen who was driving erratically, links him to murder in Ohio
The 14-year-old was driving the car of a 71-year-old man found slain in his home
By Molly Walsh
EUCLID, Ohio — The Pennsylvania State trooper quickly noticed the erratic driving of the person behind the wheel of the Honda Odyssey, from the screeching brakes on Interstate 80 to the weaving across lanes.
Within minutes, the driver, a 14-year-old boy, was arrested and linked to a death more than an hour away in Euclid, where Larry Lee Anderson was found slain in his bed.
The boy was charged with murder Tuesday in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in the death of Anderson, 71.
The youth is accused of breaking into Anderson’s home, 424 E. 254th St., and shooting him in the face, according to court records. The documents allege the youth stole a handgun, some money and Anderson’s Honda. He also is charged with robbery, theft, trespassing, burglary, assault and having a weapon in a car.
It is unclear whether the handgun stolen from Anderson was the weapon used to shoot him. Authorities have not released why the youth targeted Anderson.
The boy, who is from Columbus, was stopped by a trooper of the Pennsylvania State Police while driving Anderson’s minivan about 9 a.m. Saturday.
Peter Acker, the district attorney for Mercer County, Pennsylvania, said the officer was entering I-80 eastbound in Mercer County, which is near Youngstown, when the late-model Honda hit the brakes to allow the trooper to pass, despite the officer having enough room to merge.
“The minivan was driving erratically at an excessively slow speed, had a license plate covered with a lens and failed to keep within his lane,” Acker said. “The trooper’s initial impression was that the driver of the minivan did not know how to drive and probably did not have a license.”
Acker said the trooper drove alongside the minivan and noticed the driver was young, had a hooded sweatshirt pulled tightly and avoided exposing his face.
Upon pulling the driver over, the trooper discovered a handgun and clip on the floor in front of the passenger seat. He also learned the vehicle was owned by Anderson. Acker said the driver did not answer some questions and did not have a driver’s license on him.
It is not clear whether the weapon found in the car is the weapon that belonged to Anderson.
The trooper contacted Euclid police and requested that officers go to Anderson’s home, where he was found in bed, dead of a single gunshot wound to the face. Pennsylvania police declined to comment on the case, citing the pending case.
Neighbors of Anderson struggled with the news of his death.
John Oldwine lives across the street from Anderson and said he was a good man. He said he woke up at 3 a.m. Saturday and saw Anderson’s van parked by the light pole on the street.
“He never did that. It was unusual,” he said. “Then at around 8:45 a.m., my wife woke me up and there were at least six police cars out there.”
Lora Mitchell has lived next door to him for more than 15 years. She cried while describing Anderson as a caring person.
“I used to call him my neighbor-dad,” she said. “He has helped me so much and would do anything for anyone. He was always there for me for even the smallest things. How can this have happened?”
Pennsylvania officials have filed juvenile charges relating to the gun and the stolen vehicle. They have been working with Euclid police and the Cuyahoga County prosecutors. The investigation is ongoing.
The 14-year-old is being held at a juvenile corrections facility in western Pennsylvania and is in the process of being returned to Ohio.