Police in Ohio have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with the death of a Dayton mother and the kidnapping of her 4-year-old son, who was later abandoned at a highway rest stop.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer identified the suspect as Charlie W. Myers of Harrison Township, Ohio. Plummer said the man confessed to involvement with the case and is being held in connection with an aggravated murder. Formal charges have not been filed.
Jenny Nelson, 29, was shot by an intruder last Friday in her Dayton home as she was getting her son, Will, ready for bed. The boy, who will turn 5 on Saturday, was kidnapped and later abandoned at a rest stop on I-70 outside of Columbus.
Plummer said the young boy’s ability to tell police where he lived and to describe his mother’s attacker helped lead to the rapid arrest of Myers.
“He did a good job,” the sheriff said of Will Nelson. “He gave us a pretty good description of him: white male, height. He knew it was a stranger. He’s a very sharp young man.”
Plummer said that Myers has a criminal record that includes an arrest as a juvenile for aggravated arson. “He has a couple of misdemeanor property crimes,” Plummer said, adding that Myers had also been arrested on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“This is a bizarre case. This is probably the worst I’ve seen,” Plummer told reporters in describing the crime.
Earlier on Monday, Jenny Nelson’s husband, Eddie, and her sister, Amber Stillings, had spoken exclusively with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira about the shooting and kidnapping.
Nelson said his son is traumatized by what he saw and is not talking much about it.
Video: Man arrested in Ohio mother's murder “He’s not really spoken much about it at all. He’s still terrified,” the boy’s father, Eddie Nelson, said Monday. “I don’t know if he quite fully understands what’s going on, or he’s just not talking about it. He’s just in total shock right now.”
Three men questioned
Nelson, who was joined by his wife’s sister, Amber Stillings, spoke exclusively via satellite with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira three days after his wife, Jennifer, was murdered. The killer stole two computers and other items before kidnapping William and driving some 70 miles to the outskirts of Columbus, where he abandoned the boy at a rest stop on I-70.
On Sunday, police recovered a car belonging to Nelson’s mother that they believe was stolen by the intruder after the break-in and murder. The FBI said it was questioning three men in connection with the killing. The men were taken into custody Sunday evening at a house near the Ohio State University campus.
On Monday, an Ohio sheriff announced the arrest of Myers.
“As a mom, she was the best mom I could ever imagine for any child,” Stillings said of her sister Jennifer, who was 29. “She not only took care of William; she was with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She also took care of my other sister’s three children three days a week. She worked with Willie. He just loved her to death. I loved her to death.”
Eddie Nelson worked three jobs to allow his wife to stay home with their son, who will turn 5 on Saturday. He was at work Sunday when the break-in and murder occurred.
‘A bad man shot my mommy’
William was found at the rest stop by Mike and Judith McConnell, who were driving home to Maryland from a holiday trip out west when they pulled into the rest stop and noticed the little boy staring out the window. He was obviously alone and dressed in a sweat shirt and sweat pants and wearing socks but no shoes.
‘A bad man shot my mommy’
A teacher, Judith McConnell engaged him in conversation and soon learned what had happened. The McConnells called 911, and the boy told police, “A bad man came into my house without knocking and shot my mommy.”
Jennifer Nelson had drilled her son on learning his phone number and address, as well as the addresses and phone numbers of other family members. He was able to give that information to police, who called authorities in Dayton, where Jenny Nelson’s body was found. He also gave a sparse description of the intruder: a tall and skinny white man with no facial hair.
“He’s a very sharp kid. He’s like a sponge; he just soaks everything up,” Nelson said of his son. “I admire the kid; he’s been so brave through all this. I’m just glad that my wife especially insisted that we worked on him learning his address, learning the phone numbers — just important things that a lot of people would take for granted. And it saved him.”
Nelson has taken Will to stay with relatives.
“My focus is [on] doing everything I can to bring a little bit of home,” he told Vieira. “I’m not going to make him go back to the house ever again. Right now I’m just trying not to really even bring it up. We’re going to go to see counselors. We’re going to take advice from them and just try to keep moving forward.”
The father said it’s important not to dwell on his loss and the terrible moment Will witnessed.
Nelson suspects that the person who murdered his wife also stole his car two weeks ago in Columbus. He and his wife had gone to a concert, and he had left his wallet, identification and house keys in the car, which was parked in a public garage.
Money is tight for the family, and the stolen car dampened their holiday. Nelson had changed the locks on the house, worried that whoever stole the car could easily get in.
The person who shot Jenny Nelson broke into the house. Police found the car that had been stolen two weeks earlier parked nearby. A second car, on loan from Nelson’s mother, was stolen from the house, and police believe the assailant used that car to drive Will to Columbus. That vehicle was recovered Sunday from a Columbus parking lot.
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