August death ruled a homicide

EAST LIVERPOOL–An East Liverpool man’s death has been ruled a homicide.

James C. Perl, 44, died in August under suspicious circumstances following a fishing trip in Hancock County.

Columbiana County Coroner Dr. William Graham Jr. ordered a forensic autopsy because there was evidence of a beating and sent the body to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner in Cleveland.

The autopsy came back on Wednesday that the cause of death was blunt impacts to the head and neck and that the manner of death was homicide, Graham said.

Authorities are still not sure what kind of weapon was used. “It was not a pattern injury, like with a baseball bat. We can’t tell by looking at the body what caused it,” Graham said.

Authorities also are unclear as to whether Perl died in Hancock County or in East Liverpool. He was pronounced dead at 4:18 p.m. Aug. 13, a Saturday, in the emergency room of East Liverpool City Hospital.

Perl was fishing on the Ohio River in Hancock County when he suffered the injuries that led to his death. He was taken to the Fairview Street home of the man he was fishing with and then to City Hospital, authorities have said.

At least one person has been interviewed in connection with the death, although no arrests have been made.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher declined to comment on the case on Thursday, and East Liverpool police officials could not be reached for comment. Both jurisdictions are continuing their investigation.

Officials with the coroner’s office met with investigators on Thursday morning to discuss the autopsy results.

A family member who asked not to be named said that Perl’s family, including his five daughters, are hoping that justice will be done.