Murder suspect found in Columbiana County

STEUBENVILLE – Murder suspect Michael Mitchell, 38, of 998 county Road 50, Irondale, was arrested late Thursday at a relative’s house on Derr Avenue in Beloit – the same day he allegedly killed his girlfriend in their Irondale home.

According to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, Mitchell was taken into custody around 9:40 p.m. Thursday in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Marie A. Cantwell, 38, earlier in the day.

Mitchell was charged with murder and is lodged in the Jefferson County jail this morning.

During an interview with the sheriff, Mitchell claimed the shooting was an accident.

“I asked him then why he didn’t call 911,” Abdalla said.

The sheriff said Cantwell was shot in the side of the head with a small caliber handgun around 3 a.m. Thursday.

Cantwell’s three children were in the home and her 13-year-old daughter was sleeping in bed with her mother when the shooting occurred, Abdalla said.

The sheriff said the daughter saw her mother throwing up in bed. Mitchell told the girl that her mother would be OK and they would take her to the hospital later if she wasn’t feeling better, Abdalla said. The mother had not been feeling good for the past couple days, Abdalla said, adding that was why the daughter was sleeping with her mother.

Mitchell left the home around 10:40 a.m. Thursday, telling Cantwell’s daughter he would return in about 30 minutes. Abdalla said the daughter then tried to wake her mother. She then went to a neighbor’s house, who called 911, the sheriff said.

“She didn’t see it. She was sleeping next to her mom when she was shot. The girl didn’t even know that,” Abdalla said.

Abdalla said Cantwell’s eye was swollen. The sheriff said he began to feel around the side of the head and saw a small hole he believed was caused by a .22-caliber bullet. Cantwell’s body was taken to Trinity Medical Center West, where an X-ray revealed metal fragments, he said.

The body was taken to the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office for an autopsy.

Abdalla said Mitchell was driving on state Route 213 when his pickup truck broke down at the rest area at the intersection of state Route 7. A tow truck from East Liverpool came and took the truck and Mitchell to his uncle’s house in Beloit, located in southern Mahoning County just across the border from Columbiana County, Abdalla said.

Goshen Township Police Department and the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, Mountain State Fugitive Task Force, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service helped in the search for Mitchell.

Abdalla said someone had posted on Facebook that Mitchell was being sought in connection with the shooting death. The tow truck driver’s wife saw the posting and called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, saying she recognized the man’s picture.

A county sheriff’s deputy and a U.S. Marshal went to the house in Beloit and saw the truck, the sheriff said.

A search warrant was obtained and the house was searched, and Mitchell was taken into custody.

Mitchell surrendered without incident, Goshen Police Chief Steve McDaniel said, noting that officers confiscated an assortment of automatic weapons and rifles, as well as ammunition. McDaniel said the officers found Mitchell in the garage and that he appeared to be packing up to leave.

“I couldn’t ask for more help,” Abdalla said about the number of law enforcement that assisted.

He said the investigation into the shooting death is continuing with Saline Township Police Chief Cliff Utt.

Utt said his officers have been called to the house before, though never for any serious matters or domestic violence issues. “We’ve responded here for minor calls in the past, but nothing of this extent,” Utt said.

Kevin Howell contributed to this report