Homicide suspect kills himself in W. Va. 2012.07.25

Written by David Green.

The search for the suspected shooter in a double homicide in Blissfield July 13 ended in rural West Virginia after four days.

U.S. Marshals and Tyler County Sheriff’s Department deputies searched for Thomas Fritz, 38, of Sylvania, Ohio, near the town of Sisterville, W. Va.

When officers arrived Tuesday evening, July 17, at a cabin owned by a man that Fritz once worked for, the suspect was seen running inside the structure while carrying a rifle. A few seconds later a single gunshot was heard.

Officers weren’t sure if Fritz had shot himself or fired at them and waited for a SWAT team to arrive. The team entered the structure and found Fritz dead.

Fritz faced a three-count felony warrant including two counts of open murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder.

His victims were Morenci graduate Lisa (Burrow) Gritzmaker, 24, and her unborn daughter, and her sister Amy Lynn Merrill, 33, the former girlfriend of Fritz. The girls’ mother, Robin Lynn McCowan, 52, of rural Morenci, was injured in the shooting.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
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    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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