The case of Roxanne Lee Buck, the woman accused of murdering 21-year-old Michelle Johnson of Stow, has been sent to a grand jury.
Buck, 44, did not enter a plea to first-degree felony murder and third-degree felony tampering with evidence Thursday, and Stow Municipal Court Judge Lisa Coates sent the case to a Summit County grand jury.
Scott Rilley, Buck's attorney, said he is waiting for information from the Summit County Prosecutor's Office that he needs before he can comment on the case. Rilley said the grand jury is scheduled to hear the case March 31 and if Buck is indicted, her arraignment is scheduled for April 9.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said the murder charge carries a possible 15-year to life sentence and the tampering charge nine to 36 months. Buck has been held in Summit County Jail on a $1 million bond since her March 20 arrest.
Diana Johnson, Michelle Johnson's mother, does not mince words over her feelings about Buck.
"She's a monster," Diana told the Stow Sentry.
"Her life was taken from her before her time," she said of her daughter.
Buck rented a room in Diana and Michelle Johnson's Maplepark Road duplex home.
Although Buck reportedly told police she had been asked to leave the Johnson home because of a rent payment issue, Diana said that the actual reason she asked Buck to leave was that she suspected Buck was using drugs.
"(Buck allegedly) had been doing drugs and that's why she was being kicked out of the house," she said. "My baby girl and I wouldn't stand for that."
Rilley declined to comment about the drug allegation.
Johnson also said that she believes Buck has some form of mental illness and that she frequently got into arguments with Michelle because she did not like Michelle's dog.
"(The public has) the right to know that this has nothing to do with rent," said Johnson.
Stow police Detective Sgt. Steve Dunton said March 25 that he had become aware of the drug allegations, but he declined to comment further because of the ongoing investigation.
At a March 20 press conference announcing Buck's arrest and arraignment, Dirker said that Buck's "criminal history" included "a couple of DUI arrests in Florida and also a domestic violence against her boyfriend in Florida."
Diana was in West Virginia March 15 when she called Stow police at about 5:30 p.m. and asked them to check on her daughter because she had lost contact with her over the previous two days. Patrolman Jason Bailey was dispatched and after receiving no answer to his knock at the front door, went around to the rear of the home and discovered Michelle's body under some blankets in an open shed near the home's rear door.
Gary Guenther, spokesperson with the Summit County medical examiner, said March 17 that Johnson's death had been caused by "sharp force injuries to the neck" and it was ruled a homicide.
Dirker told the Stow Sentry March 27 that Johnson also had "cuts on her hands" which appeared to be defensive wounds.
Police say that Buck has not confessed and has not provided any clues as to a possible motive, nor have they been able to find the weapon. Dirker characterized Johnson's murder as a "crime of passion" with "a lot of violence involved."
At the press conference, Dirker said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation told police that DNA in Buck's vehicle, blood on some books, could be linked to Johnson and that evidence indicated that the murder took place in Buck's basement room.
Dirker told the Sentry March 27 that the evidence in Buck's room was blood and that there was blood in other parts of the home as well and on the ground to the shed.
"There's a lot of blood evidence," he said.
Victim wanted to be a police officer
Diana Johnson said her daughter had long wanted to become a police officer and being a people person, knew police officers, both locally and in West Virginia and Florida where she frequently traveled.
"She was a very social person. She loved to talk to people," said Diana. "She just basically wanted to protect people."
Dirker said that Michelle went on five "ride-alongs" with a Stow police officer last year, from July 30 to Dec. 29.
"She was interested in law enforcement," he said. "She knew a couple of police officers, I don't know how she met them, and went out (on patrol) with one of them."
Diana said that Michelle eventually wanted to attend a police academy.
Michelle attended Stow-Munroe Falls High School for a time, but the family moved away for awhile.
She was in the process of earning a general educational development degree at Cuyahoga Falls Public Library to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Michelle had two sisters and a brother, with Michelle the youngest, and her mother said Michelle was a loving aunt to her brother's two sons and two daughters.
"She was always a happy person, always had a smile on her face. Everyone who met her, loved her," Diana said. "She and I were best friends."
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