“Can a ball pin hammer kill you if it hits you in the temple”
“How to kill someone quickly with chemicals”
“What kind of ether will knock someone out”
Defense attorneys say these internet searches reflected Marcia Eubank's fantasies about how to escape years of abuse.
Prosecutors say she was looking for a way to kill.
She chose bullets.
On the morning of June 13, 2017, she shot and killed her husband, Howard, 54, after a quarrel in their Coventry Township home. She later dismembered his body and hid the remains in three plastic containers in their house.
Six months later, her crimes were uncovered when her adult son, also named Howard, found a plastic bin containing part of a decomposing body, sent his mother a photo and asked, “What the … is this?”
“It is part of your father’s body,” she responded. “The other parts are in the basement under two boxes in crates. Call the police and tell them I killed dad.”
Marcia Eubank, 50, was sentenced this month to life in prison with possible parole after 20 years after pleading guilty to murder. But that conclusion left unanswered questions for the Eubank family and a community that was shocked by such a gruesome crime by a woman with no criminal history.
Asked what he still doesn’t understand, Joshua Eubank, Howard’s son and Marcia’s stepson, said, “I guess what her motive really is or was.”
Marcia Eubank claims she killed her husband after suffering more than two decades of mental and physical abuse by a man who got mean when he was drunk. A psychologist who examined Marcia after her arrest found she was in an abusive, dysfunctional relationship. Marcia never called the police or sought medical help and many people said the couple had a volatile relationship but they saw no signs of abuse.
The Beacon Journal examined the Summit County prosecutor’s file and court documents and talked to people involved to get a better understanding of this unusual, high-profile case. Marcia declined an interview request, but her attorneys discussed the case.
"I think it's a case that is a tragedy for everyone," said Brian Pierce, one of Eubank's attorneys. "Her life was ruined. A life was taken. Her sons no longer have parents. It's just a sad situation."
Marcia and Howard Eubank were married for more than 23 years and lived in a Cape Cod home on Linda Street, a quiet road in Coventry.
The couple had two adult sons, Howard and Zachary, and the elder Howard had three grown sons from a prior relationship, Joshua, Jonathon and Brandon.
Howard, 29, was still living with his parents but worked long hours.
The elder Howard drove a truck and did maintenance for Warren Pump and Supply Co. in Akron. Marcia cleaned at Chapel Hill Retirement Community in Canal Fulton.
Howard Eubank had several driving-under-the influence charges. Marcia had no prior offenses.
Marcia Eubank told detectives Howard was an abusive drunk and she only stayed with him because of the children. She said her husband banged her head on the floor when the younger Howard was a baby. She said the abuse got worse through the years and, when Howard hit her, she hit back.
Joshua Eubank, 32, who lives in Cape Carteret, N.C., said in a phone interview last week that Marcia and Howard didn’t have “the best marriage" but he never saw his father assault Marcia.
“They argued a lot,” he said. “She slept on the couch.”
Growing up, "it sucked," he said. “It was a volatile house.”
Howard Eubank told prosecutors that his father was “an a****** for sure” but insisted he “never laid hands on my mother.” He said his parents argued and he knew of times when his mother assaulted his father. He said he also recalls times when he thought Marcia should call the police because Howard was about to strike her.
In the months before his death, Howard said his father seemed to be getting better about his drinking. The two of them went out for beers a few times and his father didn’t get drunk. He said his parents appeared to be getting along better.
Marcia Eubank, however, apparently didn’t share this view. She began her internet queries about murder methods in mid-May, asking whether arsenic, Benadryl or hydrochlorothiazide, a blood pressure medicine, could be fatal. She also asked whether being shot with particular types of guns could kill someone and searched for “where to buy nicotine poison.”
She told detectives she bought a .22-caliber handgun online June 9 to protect herself because Howard was drinking more and more. She hid it in a bedroom drawer.
Five days later, Marcia Eubank woke up at 4:45 a.m. and made coffee for her son Howard before he went to work.
Her husband awoke at 5:45 a.m. and had some coffee and a cigarette.
Marcia Eubank told detectives she and Howard started arguing and she went into the bedroom, grabbed the handgun and waited, planning to kill herself in front of him. She said Howard called her extremely offensive names.
Instead of killing herself, Marcia said, she went into the office where Howard sat at his computer and shot him once in the back of the head. She heard him moaning and went back in the room and shot him three more times. He slumped over the computer and died.
“I was tired of being belittled and yelled at and something in my head snapped,” she said in a written statement. “I should have died that morning but he started yelling at me like he always did. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Marcia told prosecutors she planned to turn herself in but panicked. She dragged Howard’s body into a closet.
She left Howard’s body in the closet for eight days but then decided she should dismember it. She used an electric circular saw/grinder and two hand saws, dividing the remains among three plastic totes, one that she put in a bedroom used as an office and two that she hid in the basement.
The process took a day. Marcia said the electric saw burned out, and she threw it away. She put the other tools in the garage.
In mid-June, she bought lye over the internet for $12.90 and poured it into the tote in the office. Lye can be used to digest tissues of animal or human remains. She told detectives she poured bleach in and around the tote to try to disguise the smell.
Howard Eubank, Marcia’s son, told detectives he asked Marcia about the chemical smell. He said she told him she cleaned the office after his father threw chemicals at her.
At this point, Howard Eubank and others in the family had no reason to think anything had happened to the elder Howard because they received text and Facebook messages from him saying he was in Texas.
What they didn’t realize was that Marcia actually wrote the messages.
“I will reach out to people when I am ready to,” Marcia posted on Howard’s Facebook page July 31, pretending to be her dead husband. “Please don’t try to contact me I need some time for myself. I have changed my phone number and will give it out when I am ready. Hope everyone understands but if not oh well.”
Marcia also sent a text pretending to be Howard to his employer, saying that he quit and then requested and filled out paperwork for his pension.
The ruse was exposed on Dec. 9 after Howard Eubank locked himself out of the house, broke in through a bedroom window and found the tote with the remains. Not knowing what it was, he dragged it out to the backyard and texted his mother. He then called 911.
Sheriff Steve Barry saw Marcia’s car in the Walmart parking lot on South Arlington Road. He asked if she was OK and she asked if her son was OK.
“It’s been a hell of a day,” the sheriff said.
“It’s been a hell of a six months,” Marcia responded. “I’m just glad it’s over.”
Marcia confessed to detectives and wanted to plead guilty right away.
However, Pierce, who represented Marcia with attorney Andrea Whitaker, said he first wanted to have her evaluated by a psychologist. He said it was unusual for someone with no criminal record or history of alcohol or drug abuse to suddenly commit a crime like this.
Psychologist James Eisenberg found Marcia was in an emotionally abusive relationship and was afraid of her husband. He said she was embarrassed and humiliated and had low self-esteem. He also said she suffered from anxiety and depression.
Pierce said Marcia likely didn't leave Howard because she lacked the financial means to support herself. He said she snapped and killed Howard, then was too afraid to call police and wasn't sure what to do.
"She wanted to buy herself time to come up with a plan," Whitaker said.
Pierce and Whitaker explored a potential defense of battered woman syndrome. But neither Marcia nor her family wanted a trial. They were particularly concerned about Howard, the son, having to testify.
The attorneys reached an agreement and Marcia pleaded guilty Dec. 21 to murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. Prosecutors dropped an aggravated murder charge, which has a higher minimum penalty.
"The family was thankful that Marcia chose to accept responsibility for what she did and spared them the trauma of trial," Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said.
During the Feb. 8 sentencing, prosecutors argued for Marcia to get the maximum sentence of life in prison with possible parole after 22 years. Her attorneys suggested a sentence of 18 years to life, the least possible.
Judge Kelly McLaughlin sentenced her to life in prison with possible parole after 18 years for the murder charge, plus two more years for the other charges.
Marcia made a brief statement during the sentencing, apologizing to her family.
“I’d like to say I’m truly remorseful,” she said. “I truly know what I did was wrong.”
She also has reached out to members of her family to apologize, including one of Howard’s sisters and their son Howard.
“What people didn’t know was the physical, mental and emotional abuse that I dealt with for 24 years,” she wrote Howard in a recent letter from jail. “That doesn’t change the fact that I loved your father and he loved you boys. Howie, I want to tell you that I did wrong; I mean really, grossly wrong … I want to ask you to forgive me.”
When Joshua Eubank was asked whether he will forgive Eubank, he responded simply: “Forgiveness is for God.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.