Nobody told Ronald Hupp, but months before Summit County dismissed the eight-count indictment against the high school dropout for the rape-kidnap-slaying of Hannah Hill, the case against him had already fallen apart.
There was no evidence she was raped.
There was no evidence she was kidnapped.
And there was not a speck of Hupp's DNA found at what was supposed to be the scene of the crime - the Canton Road apartment of Denny Ross.
Yet Akron police had an eyewitness who said she saw it all happen.
Police stated publicly that Hupp had lured 18-year-old Hannah Hill to Ross' apartment on the night she was killed.
And they were not about to let go of their theory that her slaying was the handiwork of Ross and Hupp.
After all, the facts supplied by their eyewitnesses fit the theory very nicely.
It was through their pursuit of friends of Ross and Hupp that Detectives Russ McFarland of Akron and Denise Johnstonbaugh of Springfield Township had found someone who said she saw the crime unfold.
Not only would this eyewitness say she was in Ross' apartment at the same time as Hannah Hill on May 19, but she claimed she had actually "witnessed" Hupp and Ross "rape and kill Hannah Hill."
Whether that was the state's entire case against Hupp isn't clear because Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond would later insist that the records of what was told to the grand jury remain secret.
But in her ruling on the matter, Bond assured one and all that "certainly, the court can conclude that at some point in time the prosecution submitted substantial evidence to the grand jury to support such an indictment."
The eyewitness to the rape, though, was Hupp's wife.
Hupp had married Kim O'Harrow, a 16-year-old from North Canton, on May 27 - the same day Ross was arrested for murder.
According to statements in pleadings before Bond, the young bride turned out to have a history of psychological problems and was actually at her parents' home - not Ross' apartment - all evening on the night Hannah Hill was slain.
In an interview earlier this year, Richard O'Harrow - the father - said phone records were used to determine his daughter's true whereabouts on that night.
Why she said what she said was another matter.
Her father offered only that "she does things like that."
But Kim O'Harrow had an even more unusual explanation:
"The police would not quit harassing me because I told them I knew nothing . . . so I made up a story so outrageous that they would leave me alone," she said.
Before her "outrageous" statement implicated her husband in the murder, however, records show she had developed a legal problem of her own.
She was arrested in Akron at 2:39 a.m. on May 24, 1999 - five days after Hannah Hill's disappearance - at the Berwyck Drive home of one of Hupp's friends, 18-year-old Elliot Greer.
Police said O'Harrow gave an improper date of birth in order to avoid being arrested for violating curfew when they were called to Greer's home to investigate a complaint.
The complaint - made half an hour earlier - was that someone had taken a Yellow Cab to that address and refused to pay the tab.
O'Harrow's falsification case was referred to Stark County Juvenile Court.
Before her July 30 arraignment, though, she had become involved in the Hannah Hill case.
O'Harrow admitted to the falsification charge, but sentencing was then deferred for three months on the recommendation of the Stark County prosecutor's office.
Kristen Bates, chief of the juvenile division there, said the prosecutor's office in Canton was aware of O'Harrow's involvement in the Akron murder investigation and agreed to defer the case "to see if she continued to cooperate."
In less than a month, she gave her statement to Akron police, saying she watched Ross and Hupp rape and kill Hannah Hill.
On that same day, Hupp was arrested for murder.
Two months later, the 16-year-old was accompanied to the Stark County court by Akron detectives where she "received consideration" as promised.
On motion of the prosecutor, her case was dismissed.
A year later, though, when it finally came time for the state to present everything it had to prove Denny Ross killed Hannah Hill, Kim O'Harrow's eyewitness account was never mentioned.
Yet the theory that Hupp was involved with Ross in killing Hannah Hill fit with the notion that Ross - with a broken left hand - may have needed help dragging her body from his apartment to her car trunk.
The car was found a mile and a half away - easy walking distance from where he lived on Canton Road.
So when two longtime Ellet joggers began piecing together their recollections of an encounter with two men on Canton Road around dawn on the morning that followed Hannah Hill's death, police became interested.
It meant nothing at the time, but later it took on great significance when Patricia Myers Moledor (the wife of a retired Akron police officer) and Laurie Hudnall (the wife of an Akron detective) put the times together.
For when they did, police had two more eyewitnesses.
By their account, the encounter took place at about the time Jerry Reymann peered out his window on Caine Road and beheld the abandoned gold Geo Prizm - the car Akron police would ignore for a week.
The delay in finding the body would cause a public uproar for police - yet one that died down with Ross' swift apprehension.
According to Moledor's log book, the two jogged 3.5 miles that day, starting at 5:15 a.m., on a course unlikely to lead them into the path of others.
But near the end of the route, they would later recall, they passed two young men in front of Eastgate Plaza who "looked out of place."
One was blond, the other had dark hair, and they were dressed more warmly than the weather required.
The blond man, Moledor said, was "horsing around," pretending to light a cigarette for the other.
But there was something in particular that Hudnall said she noticed about the dark-haired man - the taller of the two - reaching for a cigarette.
"When he reached around and tried to get the cigarette the left arm wasn't moving at all," she said in pretrial testimony. "It was straight as a board."
Her recollection was a welcome detail - the kind of tidbit prosecutors need to help jurors identify a killer with a broken left hand in a circumstantial murder case.
For both Patricia Myers Moledor and Laurie Hudnall would later assure police that the tall, dark-haired stranger with the rigid left arm was indeed Denny Ross.
Police showed both women a videotape including Ross and his friends, yet neither could identify Hupp.
Although blond, Hupp is 3 inches taller than Ross.
Donald Varian, one of Ross' attorneys, asked that the joggers' testimony be suppressed.
Both women were well aware of the police controversy surrounding the delayed discovery of the body yet neither identified Ross until nearly a month later.
In the interim they had watched television newscasts naming Ross as the accused killer, and when she picked Ross from a photo array, Moledor assured police: "That is the person I saw on TV."
Varian argued that Moledor's June 16 identification of Ross "was not based on her brief, dimly lit observation of someone on May 20, but her observation of Ross' photograph on television."
Judge Bond disagreed.
She concluded, "the morning light was now strong" and that "there was nothing improper or unduly suggestive in the procedures used by the officers or in the photo arrays or videotape shown to the witnesses."
Varian's motion to suppress was denied, allowing the state to use both women as eyewitnesses.
But when Denny Ross was eventually put on trial for his life, the state didn't bother to call either one of them.
Of all those who somehow became involved in the jumbled puzzle pieces of who killed Hannah Hill, none seems more mysterious than 18-year-old Elliot Greer.
For John Greven - one of the two assistant prosecutors in the case who has since gone into private practice - the name clearly rang a bell.
"Oh, yeah. Yeah. Very much so," he said, and yet in an interview earlier this year, Greven said he couldn't recall what information the state thought Greer had.
He hadn't talked to him, he said, but others had.
"I'm quite sure that he knew Denny Ross," Greven said. "I don't believe we would have talked to him, had he not."
According to those who knew Greer, though, he was friends with Hupp, but hardly knew Ross.
Yet when the murder charges against Hupp were finally dropped, Greer's friends say police continued to pressure Greer for information.
He apparently never went to high school.
Officials at Phoenix, an independent school in Akron for youths with behavioral problems, said he attended the Goodyear Boulevard school for a period in the spring of 1999 but they didn't know for how long.
Greer's father's home on Berwyck Drive had become a gathering place, of sorts, for his friends.
Indeed, at the time Hupp's wife-to-be, Kim O'Harrow, was first arrested - before she became a would-be witness for the prosecution - she was at Greer's home.
And when the murder case against Hupp went through the slats and he scraped together enough money for bail on the pending burglary charge, Hupp went to spend his freedom, at least temporarily, at Greer's home, too.
After all, both liked to party.
"Elliot's door was never locked," said Heather Hamrick, a 22-year-old dancer at the Platinum Horse Cabaret club on Waterloo Road. "Whenever I went there, I just walked in."
He and she were not romantically involved, she said, but they frequently partied together with friends at his house.
He was like a "soul mate to me," she said.
It was about 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2000, when Mark Greer, a con struction worker, arrived at his Berwyck Drive home and noticed the lights were off and the door was locked.
His son, Elliot, was still asleep when he left that morning.
It was the second full day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Denny Ross.
And whether he had information or not, Elliot Greer's name was apparently included on the list of prospective prosecution witnesses.
His friend Ronald Hupp wasn't around anymore.
Hupp was at Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient.
Judge Bond had sent Hupp's accomplice in the $900 karaoke heist back to Michigan to serve two years of probation at home, but for Hupp, she would allow no such leniency.
Hupp was sent away on a two-year prison sentence.
Mark Greer checked his mailbox, let himself in and turned on the lights.
He paused in the kitchen to open some mail and called out Elliot's name, but there was no response.
Then he stepped into the hallway and saw his 18-year-old son lying on his back outside a bedroom door with a .22-caliber rifle nearby.
His head had come to rest on what authorities described as a suicide note.
Death came to Elliot Greer eight days after he filled out a form - for the second time within a month - to make sure he was registered to vote in the Nov. 7 election.
Police said he shot himself in the mouth.
The medical examiner said he shot himself in the left temple.
His friends say they don't believe he shot himself at all.Ohio.com extra: Read the Akron Beacon Journal's 2001 eight-