Proving that Denny Ross killed Hannah Hill turned out to be far more difficult than it first seemed when the bag of her missing clothing was found beneath his window.
Ross insisted he was not the killer.
And the bag of evidence eventually raised more questions than it answered.
So, with the help of the Summit County prosecutor, the police began to press for more information, looking for anyone who knew anything.
Two weeks to the day after the search of Ross' apartment, the state not only went forward with its aggravated murder case against Ross, but beefed it up with four more charges.
In addition to murder, the county grand jury indicted Ross for rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
It was never clear, though, how anyone intended to prove it.
Given the position of the body when it was found in the car trunk - naked from the waist down, with her bra and shirt pulled up above her breasts - rape was an obvious suspicion.
But the facts didn't quite fit the theory.
Indeed, on the day before the indictments were returned, Dr. Marvin Platt, Summit County's medical examiner at the time, announced that the cause of Hannah Hill's death was "asphyxia by manual compression" of the neck.
She was strangled.
But Platt refused to say anything beyond that.
"The police want me to give my testimony in the courtroom," he said at the time.
It would be interesting testimony.
For not until then would he explain that although she was found naked from the waist down, she died wearing her brown corduroy pants - pants that were then removed and later found in the bag beneath Ross' window.
Furthermore, what Platt already knew, but would not say, was that in the 10-hour autopsy he conducted on the day her body was found, he discovered no evidence that Hannah Hill had been raped.
Because of the position of her body, it just looked that way.
As police began their search for information about the life and good times of Denny Ross, Ronald E. Hupp became an instant, easy mark.
He had made many bad decisions in his 18 years and had often found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, like being in Ross' apartment when police came calling - twice.
He had no money and was not well connected.
His parents were never married, he was adopted by his stepfather at 1.
In Springfield High School he played football and wrestled, but was disqualified from sports when his grades began to fall, so, after his junior year, he just quit going to school.
Thereafter he worked at odd jobs as a roofer and became a bouncer at the Flashdance Cabaret strip club in Akron.
The rest of his life became party time.
And one of the guys with whom he partied most was Denny Ross.
Both were underage then.
"We were always out doing things we weren't supposed to do," Hupp said. "But it was all just fun. And that's what messes me up so much. What seemed like fun turned into a total catastrophe.
"My dad and my grandmother would always tell me that, too," he said."You know, 'You might think you're having fun now, but it's going to come back and bite you.' And it did."
In fact, it left teeth marks that would last a lifetime.
As burglaries go, the break-in at the home of Richard W. Fisher Jr. on McElwain Drive in Springfield Township sometime in late January 1999 was small potatoes.
The culprits made off with an odd but modest assortment of booty - a handgun, a stereo and a karaoke machine.
Total value: About $900.
Fisher, who has since moved, said he reported the incident to Springfield Township police but received "very limited information" in the weeks that followed.
Then, five months after the break-in, police called to say they had tracked down the offenders.
"I got a phone call out of the clear blue one day, saying: 'Guess what? We know who broke into your house,' " Fisher said.
The burglary probe was worked by Springfield Township police Detective Denise Johnstonbaugh as well as Akron police Detective Russ McFarland, who was heading the Hannah Hill murder investigation.
Today, neither detective will comment on either case, but clearly the two investigations became commingled.
And on June 29, 1999, police charged Denny Ross and Ronald Hupp for the $900 break-in.
Ross was already in jail charged with murder and because Hupp had no bond money, he would soon join him there to await justice.
Fisher said he never got his stolen goods back, but police explained to him what was happening.
According to Fisher, police said they were "starting to put the heat on people all around Denny Ross, and (those people) just started to give up information to save their own necks."
Whether the information was true or false, police found sources who became willing to talk.
The initial police report on the burglary said Hupp and Ross were charged because an 18-year-old said she "witnessed Denny Ross and Ronald Hupp break into Mr. Fisher's residence and carry out the stolen property."
By mid-July, a second young female had given another version to detectives, this time implicating a boyhood friend of Ross - Brian Greene, then 20, of Dearborn Heights, Mich.
Greene was charged and extradited to Summit County.
Hupp would admit that he and Greene did indeed commit the burglary at the Fisher residence, which is a few hundred feet to the north of Ross' Canton Road apartment.
But he said Ross was not involved.
The equipment was stashed in Ross' apartment, Hupp said, but "Denny never had any knowledge of it until after the fact."
By Hupp's account, the three of them wanted a karaoke machine simply because they liked to get together to make rap music.
But police weren't all that interested in a karaoke machine.
Hupp said as soon as he was arrested for the burglary, police began questioning him about Hannah Hill's murder.
"I didn't know how the system worked," Hupp said. "I was just 18, and I didn't know what they were capable of doing."
He would soon find out.
Hupp was jailed June 29, 1999, and soon thereafter was taken to Akron police headquarters for a polygraph exam.
The first questions, Hupp said, weren't about the burglary.
"I was asked if I knew Hannah Hill, if I knew Denny Ross, if I saw Denny Ross kill Hannah Hill and if I was there when Hannah Hill was killed."
Hupp said "to all the questions - did I do anything, did I see anything - I told them I didn't."
And thereafter, he said, he was told: "'You passed. Thank you very much."'
Then he was ordered to give blood for a DNA test.
In the back of his mind, Hupp said an idea was taking shape:
"I knew they were either going to frame me for (the murder), or they were going to have to let me go because I didn't do it."
On Sept. 7, 1999, Hupp was indicted for aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, domestic violence, and two counts of intimidation of a crime victim or witness in Hannah Hill's death.
Ross would not face the death penalty alone.
Hupp would be right there with him.
The first public glimpse of the second defendant in the Hannah Hill murder case - provided by the news media - was accompanied by an array of incriminating scenarios furnished by Akron police and court documents.
Police openly stated that it was Hupp who, in a telephone conversation, lured Hannah Hill to Denny Ross' Canton Road apartment where she was raped and murdered.
At the same time, court records also stated that Hupp had threatened to kill his wife (a 16-year-old he had married three months earlier) if she implicated him in the slaying.
Furthermore, the records noted that Hupp had threatened to do away with a jail inmate as well - because the inmate had already assisted authorities in the homicide investigation.
So Hupp apparently felt a pressing need to cooperate with those who were building the case against Ross.
Hupp said he lost count of how often he was quizzed by McFarland and Johnstonbaugh about the Hill murder.
Ultimately, though, he said he gave them what he believed they wanted.
For, according to Hupp, by the time he was charged with murder, he had been transferred to a cell in the jail's core housing unit, away from the main block.
Once there, he said, another inmate took up residence on a cot outside his cell and began to pump him for information about the murder.
In time, he said, the inmate admitted he was an informant for the prosecutor's office and urged Hupp to cooperate, saying: " 'All you've got to do is put Denny Ross away and everything's going to be OK with you.' "
So, with thoughts of what the future might hold if he was convicted of murder, Hupp said he allowed the informant to help him write a statement implicating Ross.
Nothing in it was true, he says now, but "I was trying to do anything I could to not make these people mad so they would let me have my freedom back."
Shortly thereafter, in what he said was an attack of conscience, Hupp recanted the statement in a meeting at police headquarters with McFarland, Johnstonbaugh, Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi and his lawyer, Kerry O'Brien.
Everyone at the meeting, he said, was furious with him.
On Feb. 16, 2000, the aggravated murder case against Ronald Hupp quietly slipped away - dismissed during a 10-minute hearing in Judge Jane Bond's courtroom.
LoPrinzi, who helped bring the state's case against Ross, would say only that "based upon further information and evidence received we feel it's in the best interests of justice" to dismiss the charges.
Bond was apparently in agreement.
She noted that "this matter has been extensively discussed with the Court in chambers " and those discussions "need not be placed in the record."
As a former assistant prosecutor, Bond assured that whatever evidence was presented to the grand jury to secure Hupp's indictment was undoubtedly "substantial."
And it would remain secret.
Aside from anything his 16-year-old wife may have said, Hupp insists he is unaware of any evidence police claimed to have connecting him with Hannah Hill's murder.
Hupp's court-appointed attorney, O'Brien, won't speculate on why Hupp was ever implicated in the murder in the first place, for as he put it, "the evidence wasn't there."
Yet the charges were dismissed without prejudice to the state - meaning they could be refiled against Hupp at any time.
On the same day Bond dismissed Hupp's murder case, she also sent Hupp's accomplice in the karaoke heist - Brian Greene - back to Michigan, where he was allowed to serve his two years' probation at home.
For Hupp, though, the crime would be far more costly.Ohio.com extra: Read the Akron Beacon Journal's 2001 eight-