Bryan May and his son, Jeremy Putra, were inseparable partners, whether it was rooting for Cleveland sports teams or helping a friend down on his luck.
Family members said it appears their generosity to a down-on-his-luck Robert Pitts Jr. cost them their lives.
Pitts, 19, is accused of stabbing the men early Wednesday inside their South Rose Boulevard home in West Akron. Pitts, a family friend who was living with the men temporarily, is charged with aggravated murder.
Chicago police took Pitts into custody about 9 p.m. Thursday, ending a three-day manhunt.
“He called our department and wanted to turn himself in,” Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said. “He gave us his location and Chicago PD was notified. They went out and picked him up without incident.”
Pitts is expected to be returned to Akron in the coming days.
Police and the victims’ family were at a loss to say why Pitts appears to have violently lashed out at Putra, his longtime friend, and the man’s father.
Pitts and Putra, 20, were friends since middle school, and May, 53, opened his home for him several weeks ago when Pitts needed help, friends and family members said Thursday.
“I can’t give you any reason. The kid must have just snapped,” said Kevin Kassel, May’s brother-in-law.
Kassel said Pitts was a “troubled kid” who recently needed a place to live. Family members said they were unaware of any previous signs of violence from Pitts.
Police confirmed that Pitts has no criminal history leading up to the slaying.
“Bryan was just trying to help him out and give him a roof over his head,” Kassel said.
The bodies of the father and son were found about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Each suffered multiple stab wounds. May’s 2006 Jeep Liberty was found late Wednesday in Ashtabula.
Putra, whose mother lives in Arizona, had lived with his father for about the past 15 years. He and Pitts were close friends at Firestone High School.
The Rev. Bob Beals, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Akron, said he met Putra about 18 months ago through his youth ministry.
Despite his Jewish heritage, Putra embraced the Christian group and was slowly emerging from his shyness.
Putra, the pastor said, spoke of Pitts on Sunday during a youth ministry event. He told the pastor that Pitts “gives me the creeps.”
“Jeremy said, ‘I just wish he wasn’t living with us,’ ” Beals recalled.
Pitts, who was known to exaggerate things at times, spoke of murder and wanting to kill people, Putra confided to the minister.
Beals said it is possible that May, just before the slaying, had grown leery of the living arrangement and wanted Pitts to move out of his home.
“Jeremy’s dad is as nice as the day is long,” Beals said. “And I think it’s important that people realize this was not some drug deal gone bad. It was somebody trying to do something nice for a person and it went bad.
“Jeremy was a great kid. I really loved him, he had a lot of potential. It’s just a tragedy.”
A lifelong resident of Akron, May graduated from Firestone, attended the University of Akron and Ohio State University. He was a culinary chef who worked in southern Ohio until recently being hired to work for a local nursing home.
Both men loved the Browns and the Indians and often watched games together. Putra was a movie buff, who planned to move to Arizona to be close to his mother, Nancy Putra, and study film production, Beals said.
“Bryan was a stand-up guy and he was very devoted to his son,” Kassel said. “This is a loss to everybody who has known them.”
A graveside funeral service for May and Putra will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Rose Hill Burial Park in Fairlawn. Gordon-Flury Memorial Home is handling arrangements.