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Medical examiner: Tallmadge mother, son died of ‘unspecified violence’

Beacon Journal staff report

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The deaths of a Tallmadge mother and her son, whose bodies were discovered in August, have been officially ruled homicides.

The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Tuesday that the death certificates for Wendy Ralston, 31, and her 5-year-old son, Peyton, have been signed and ruled homicides.

The rulings do not specify a definitive cause of death, likely because of the significant decomposition of the remains that had taken place before the bodies were recovered Aug. 10. The mother and child had been missing for about 18 days.

Authorities have listed the cause of death for Wendy Ralston as “unspecified violence” with a contributing factor of “perimortem hyoid bone fracture,” or an injury to the bone located in the throat area that took place around the time of death.

The manner of Wendy Ralston’s death has been ruled as “homicide: unspecified violence with body transport and concealment.”

The cause of death for Peyton was also listed as “unspecified violence” with the manner ruled as “homicide: unspecified violence with body transport and concealment.”

A spokesman for Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler said no further explanation of the findings would be released. Similar “unspecified violence” rulings have been made in homicide cases involving victims whose remains took on extensive decomposition.

Investigators say the remains of Ralston and her son consisted essentially of bones, which made any forensic examination more challenging in terms of determining exactly what killed the mother and son.

As a result, Kohler had the remains sent to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., where they were examined by anthropologists in an attempt to learn a manner of death.

Daniel T. Tighe, 39, of Breiding Road in Akron, has been charged with aggravated murder in the July slayings of Ralston, his longtime girlfriend, and their 5-year-old son.

The case, which carries death penalty specifications, has been assigned to Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne S. Callahan.

The bodies of Ralston and her son, Peyton, were found wrapped in bedding and buried behind their home Aug. 10. Court records show authorities believe the slayings occurred July 23.

Ralston’s mother, Marie Ralston, found the remains while searching the property for her missing daughter. Police believe they were killed inside their Stone Creek Drive home and then moved to the patch of woods about 100 yards away.

Tighe was arrested Oct. 3 and charged with murder, aggravated murder, two counts each of tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and domestic violence. His next court appearance was scheduled for Nov. 6. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tighe remains in the county jail, unable to meet terms of a $1 million bond.


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