OHIO: Gay Man Killed By Online Hook-Up, Body Found In Killer’s Closet

Three weeks after a 22 year-old Ohio gay man was reported missing by his roommate, police have found his body in the closet of the man he arranged to meet online.

John R. Fox, 34 [PHOTO], of 1783 E. Main St., Franklin Township, has been charged with murder in conjunction with the death of Justin Tyler Earley, 22, three weeks after Earley was reported missing to Alliance police. The death is being investigated as “suspicious,” said Thomas Decker, chief investigator with the Portage County Coroner’s Office. He said Monday that he hasn’t confirmed a preliminary cause of death. Officials continue to await the results of microscopic evidence taken by the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office. Portage County Sheriff David Doak said his investigation found that Fox and Earley apparently were not acquainted prior to last weekend.  The Review discovered two ads on the website backpage.com, which is commonly used for prostitution purposes.

Posted on Dec. 12, a man identifying himself as “Tyler,” a college student, was looking for men to have a good time with. He placed an additional ad on Dec. 19, reiterating the message and offering “incalls” and “outcalls.” An “incall” is when a “john” visits a prostitute, while an “outcall” is when the prostitute visits the “john.” Both ads included photographs of “Tyler” and his phone number. Alliance police detective Lt. John Jenkins confirmed Monday that Earley was “Tyler.” Police say Fox posted an ad on Craigslist.com on Dec. 29, the day before Earley’s disappearance, soliciting a man to come to his residence. Craigslist removed the ad, but Fox apparently responded to the backpage.com ad. Doak declined to comment on the possibility that the online ads led to some kind of transaction between Earley and Fox.

The arrested man is a registered sex offender following a 2004 conviction for having sex with a female minor. An Ohio affiliate of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has issued a press release.

“We in Ohio are concerned by a high number of homicides in the LGBTQ community related to all forms of violence. The homicide of Justin Earley marks the seventh homicide of LGBTQ individuals in Ohio alone that BRAVO has been aware of in 2013, the highest number of homicides of LGBTQ people since we started tracking LGBTQ Anti-Violence in Ohio.” said Aaron Eckhardt, Training and Technical Assistance Director of BRAVO. “BRAVO is saddened and outraged as our communities continue to be targeted. BRAVO remains steadfast in providing services to the LGBTQ communities of Ohio.” “We at BRAVO believe that this incident underscores the importance for focus and action on hate crimes and sexual violence against LGBTQ communities. Sadly, we know that hate crime violence in its many forms are intended to instill the message of hate and fear throughout the entire community. Hate motivated homicide has the potential instill terror throughout our communities; BRAVO seeks to interrupt that message with one of healing and hope,” said Gloria McCauley, Executive Director of BRAVO.