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CELINA — Law enforcement officials in Mercer County are trying to determine if a home invasion Saturday morning near Mendon is linked to a double homicide near Fort Recovery in November.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey held a press conference Monday morning to release details of a home invasion that took place shortly after midnight on Saturday at 12617 Dutton Road, just north of Ohio 117 near Mendon. Two people were inside the residence at the time — Kathy Fair, 47, and her father William Fair, 73.
"They had suspects knock on the door and Kathy went to the door," Grey said. "She saw one person outside, a short, stocky male with reddish blondish hair. He was describe as shorter than 5-feet-7-inches tall ... The best age we have at this point is younger than 40."
Grey said the male asked if a person was home and that's when Fair noticed another person off to the side in a ski mask. Fair attempted to close the door but the pair forced their way into the home.
"They had a handgun and threatened to kill her father, William, if they didn't tell the suspects where the money was," Grey said. "The second male, who had the ski mask on, is described as taller than 5-foot-7 but the victim also described being able to see something shiny through the ski mask in the nose or mouth area that we believe may mean some kind of body piercing jewelry."
While the suspects were looking for money, a loud vehicle pulled up and a female wearing a ski mask entered the home. Grey described the female as "a lot shorter than 5-foot-7" and skinny.
"There was a struggle with both victims," Grey said. "Both victims had nicks and cuts on their wrists and forearms. No serious injuries but the kind of scraps and cuts you'd expect in a struggle."
When the suspects left, they fled south on Dutton Road. Grey said the victims obtained a description of the vehicle.
"They said it appeared to be a dark-colored SUV with loud exhaust," Grey said. "They described it as a boxy-type vehicle."
Grey said some of the events resemble those of found in the murders of Robert Grube, 70, and his daughter Colleen Grube, 47, of 2216 Burrville Road, east of Fort Recovery. The father and daughter were found by a family member bound with duct tape and shot. During the course of their investigation into the Grube murders, Grey said investigators determined there was a female present at the crime scene. Items, including a computer, were taken from the Grube residence by the suspects.
"We don't know whether this case is connected to the Grube case," Grey said. "At this point, we are assigning it to the same three detectives and we are going to investigate it like it is part of the Grube case until we can show otherwise. That's because there are a lot of similarities."
Other similarities include the fact the victims are father and daughter and similar SUV was spotted near the scene of the Grube homicides. The suspects also attempted to use duct tape during the Fair incident.
"Reportedly that's when the struggle took place," Grey said. "When they were trying to bind them up but they weren't successful in that. We also have a male and a female suspect and now we have a third male ... I want to stress at this point that we don't know if they are connected or not. There are just a lot of similarities that we are looking at."
Grey also gave an update on the Grube investigation. To date, investigators have obtained 76 subpoenas, 12 search warrants, processed 80 tips and conducted 208 interviews. Investigators also traveled to eight Ohio counties and four Indiana counties to follow up on leads. Grey declined to comment on which counties investigators visited.
"Some of those have been for body fluids from people who think could be connected," Grey said of the search warrants. "The tips have kind of fallen off a little bit since early in the Grube investigations. We hope somebody out there in the public knows something about these two cases. We hope that they will call us and help us solve these cases."
Grey encouraged anyone with any information to call the tip line at 567-890-8477, call the Mercer County Sheriff's Office at 419-586-7724 or go online to MercerCountySheriff.org.