City Police Chief Stephan B. Wilder said investigating continues as officials attempt to determine what might have led to apparent murder-suicide Monday morning.
NORTH CANTON Police continue to investigate what might have led to an apparent murder-suicide Monday morning that left a North Canton father and son dead and prompted the cancellation of classes at North Canton Middle School.
Medics were called to a home in the 500 block of Harmon Street SW at 1:30 a.m. Monday, when a woman told an emergency dispatcher she couldn't wake up her husband, who had been sitting in a chair. The woman, who said she had been sleeping, said her husband wasn't breathing and was warm, according to a recording of the emergency call.
North Canton Police Chief Stephan B. Wilder said Monday that emergency responders discovered that the man, identified as Ronald G. Milliken, 49, had been shot several times. He said it was unclear why the woman was not aware her husband had been shot.
Wilder said officers searched the home and surrounding area and found Milliken's son, Devin P. Milliken, 18, dead outside the restrooms of Witwer Park. The family's backyard abuts the park's property.
Wilder said it appears the teenager, a recent Hoover High School graduate, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The chief said a revolver has been recovered.
Investigators from the Police Department, the Stark County Coroner's Office and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation spent several hours Monday morning collecting evidence from both the Harmon Street SW home and the area surrounding the Witwer Park restrooms. Wilder said the motive for the shootings remains unknown.
"Sadly, it appears to be a murder-suicide, but we don't know why," Wilder said.
He said officers have been called to the home several times for family arguments or disputes.
Stark County court records show that North Canton police arrested Ronald Milliken at the home on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence Oct. 24. The police report states he head-butted his son in the face during a heated argument, causing injury. Milliken, an employee at FirstMerit Bank in North Canton, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The prosecutor dismissed the charge three days later, records show.
Court records also show that Devin Milliken was facing a jury trial Jan. 20 on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. Police had stopped him Oct. 28 for speeding in Lake Township and cited him for driving while impaired, according to court records. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Wilder said he asked North Canton Superintendent Jeff Wendorf to cancel classes at the middle school due to its proximity to the crime scene. From the middle school parking lot, passers-by easily could see the teenager's body sitting against the brick wall of the restrooms when investigators removed the sheet from the body to take photographs.
Wilder said it also was a safety and security issue, as investigators had to maintain two crime scenes.
"We had two crime scenes, and we wanted to protect them both," said Wilder, who said he received complete cooperation from the school. "We thought it would be better if we had less traffic and less parents and students involved trying to see what was going on."
Wendorf notified parents just after 5:30 a.m. that classes were cancelled for the school's roughly 980 students enrolled in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. All other buildings and programs in the district remained open Monday.
A handful of parents who had not received the district's message pulled into the school's empty parking lot just before 7:30 a.m. Neighbors, upon hearing that school had been closed due to its proximity to a crime scene, walked to the school to see what had occurred. None of them was familiar with the Millikens. County property records show the family bought the home in 2003.
Hoover High School Principal Eric Bornstine said in a news release Monday afternoon that the administration, faculty and staff were deeply saddened by the deaths. He said the high school’s guidance counselors are available to meet with grieving students.
Staff writers Lori Monsewicz and Kelli Weir contributed to this report.
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