Authorities found letters at Michael E. Hance’s Akron residence this week indicating that he might have had money problems.
A search warrant returned to Akron Municipal Court on Wednesday mentions that one letter involved a “debt renegotiation” and another was a “debt settlement offer.”
Akron police and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation searched the two-story house on Minota Avenue in Firestone Park after Hance shot his longtime girlfriend, Rebecca Dieter, and killed seven people Sunday morning in Copley Township.
Hance, 51, was killed by police.
He and Dieter lived in Copley but kept the Akron house when they moved to the suburbs two years ago.
In addition to the letters referencing the debt, authorities seized a Hewlett-Packard computer, emails between Dieter and another woman, “a letter to ‘unknown spouse’ of Rebecca Dieter” from a Columbus attorney, a letter from Tennessee about unclaimed property, a “copy of motion to dismiss action for collection of funds,” and “remittance invoice from Tennessee.”
The significance of the letters was unclear Wednesday. Authorities said they are still searching for a motive for the killings.
“We cannot discuss details of an open investigation,” Ohio Attorney General’s spokeswoman Eve Mueller said in an email response to questions about the search warrant and items. The attorney general oversees BCI.
Copley Police Lt. Luke Marchmon said the department is waiting for a full report from BCI, which handled the search warrant.
The Tennessee Treasury Department maintains an online searchable database for unclaimed property. Michael E. Hance is not listed, but a Michael S. Hance is owed $62.04 in wages.
A Treasury Department spokesman couldn’t immediately provide details about any money owed to the Michael Hance from Copley.
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday released the cause of death for the victims and the shooter in Sunday’s rampage.
Hance, who killed seven people before being shot and killed by Officer Ben Campbell, died of a single gunshot wound to the torso.
The victims were:
• Russell Johnson, 67, a neighbor of Hance, died of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
• Gudrun Johnson, 64, Russell’s wife, died of a single gunshot to the head.
• Bryan Johnson, 44, the couple’s son, was killed by gunshot wounds to the head.
• Autumn Johnson, 16, Bryan’s daughter, died of gunshot wounds to the chest, neck and extremities.
• Amelia Shambaugh, 16, Autumn’s friend, died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
• Craig Dieter, 51, the brother of Hance’s longtime girlfriend, Rebecca Dieter, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
• Scott Dieter, 11, Craig’s son, died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
Rebecca Dieter remains hospitalized in an area hospital with gunshot wounds.
Copley Police Chief Michael Mier said investigators are still gathering information from incident reports from various agencies and four crime scenes.
The chief said officers are still interviewing people and following leads.
On Wednesday night, area teens gathered at two prayer vigils at churches in Fairlawn and Copley to remember the fallen – particularly Copley High School students Autumn Johnson and Amelia Shambaugh.
Another community prayer service is planned for 7 p.m. Friday in the main auditorium of Grace Church Bath Campus, 754 Ghent Road, Bath Township.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marilyn Miller contributed to this report.