Tallmadge police are close to ending the investigation into last month’s deaths of a mother and young son.
Detectives intend to meet with Summit County prosecutors and have the case heard by a grand jury within the next two weeks, police Lt. Ron Williams said Thursday.
Grand jury testimony will center on the Aug. 10 death of Wendy Ralston — whose body was found beside the remains of her 5-year-old son, Peyton — and the potential involvement of her longtime boyfriend.
For the first time in the six-week investigation, police named Ralston’s live-in boyfriend as a suspect in the deaths.
Williams would not say why detectives have elevated the man from an initial “person of interest” to a suspect in the apparent homicides.
“I can’t really comment, but I will shortly,” he said.
The man, 39, has not been charged and is still living in the area, Williams said. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
This week, detectives are reviewing “a lot” of evidence recently returned to the department after forensic testing, Williams said. Once that is complete, police anticipate a meeting with prosecutors with the intention of pursuing a criminal indictment.
If the grand jury brings an aggravated murder charge, the case meets the requirement for a death penalty specification.
“We’re meeting, tightening up the case and making sure we got all we need and then we’re going to the grand jury on it,” Williams said.
Police believe Ralston, 31, and her son were killed inside their home and the bodies were moved into the woods about 100 yards away. Ralston was last heard from July 23.
The boyfriend, who is also Peyton’s father, did not report Ralston missing until Aug. 7, about the same time that Ralston’s mother grew worried and contacted police. Marie Ralston returned to the home Aug. 10 and found her daughter’s remains and those of her grandson wrapped in bedding while searching the wooded area.
The decomposed remains were sent to anthropologists at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., in an attempt to determine a manner and cause of death. Local authorities are still awaiting the examination results, a spokesman for the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday.
Police have said they believe the deaths to be homicides.
Ralston and her boyfriend have had an off and on relationship for several years. Police reports show a history of domestic violence between the two dating back to at least 2005.
Meanwhile, funeral services for Ralston and her son will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Tallmadge Lutheran Church, 759 East Ave. Calling hours are set for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Donovan Bagnoli Funeral Home, 17 Southwest Ave., Tallmadge.