LIMA — A handful of students from Ottawa-Glandorf High School gathered outside a Putnam County courtroom Friday where a teen connected to the death of two other teens made his first appearance.
They were seeking answers, shocked by the deaths of Blake Romes, 17, and his brother, Blaine Romes, 14. Michael Aaron Fay, 17, entered a denial plea to an auto theft charge at a hearing in Putnam County Juvenile Court after he was returned from Columbus following a brief court hearing there.
Fay sat at the table with his mother, Vicki Fay, and his attorney. Assistant Putnam County Prosecutor Todd Schroeder asked for Michael Fay to be held in custody to protect the community and the fact he was a risk to run since he was captured in Columbus.
The judge granted the request.
“They were just fun-loving teenagers that loved to play basketball and hang out with friends,” 18-year-old Marquis West said of the deceased brothers. West was a classmate of the older brother at Ottawa-Glandorf High School and played on a church basketball team with him.
West said Fay was sometimes with the brothers, hanging out while they played basketball. He said the deaths were a surprise since the brothers and Fay always seemed to get along.
“They were always uplifting toward each other. They were never arguing or anything around us,” he said.
Fay is a junior at Elida High School. His mother recently moved in with the mother of the two deceased teens. Michael Fay moved to Ottawa with his mother but planned to finish the school year at Elida, West said.
Fay has not been charged with the deaths of the brothers. He led authorities to their bodies Thursday after his capture in Columbus following an Amber Alert that had been issued for all three teens. Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers said it’s possible much more serious charges could be filed but he said that determination will be made after reviewing the investigation records from police.
“It’s really premature for me to even speculate what those charges could be. They run the gamut of some very, very serious charges to some more theft-related charges,” Lammers said.
Neighbors said one of the teens’ bodies was found under the trailer. Authorities had blocked off part of County Road 7 outside Ottawa Thursday, where it’s believed the other teen’s body was found.
The bodies of the teen brothers were sent to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office in Toledo for autopsies. As of late Friday afternoon, Lammers did not know if the autopsies were completed.
Lammers confirmed the bodies were found apart but would not confirm the location. He said the trailer where the three teens lived — 1570 N. Perry St., Lot 61 — was a crime scene, which state agents processed.
The mother of the two deceased teens, Michelle Grothause, called authorities saying all three boys were missing. Blaine Romes failed to board his bus for an Ottawa Elementary trip to Washington D.C. at 5 a.m. Thursday.
Ottawa Police Lt. Josh Strick said the FBI also is involved in the investigation but he would not describe that agency’s role.
Strick said the Ottawa Police Department is the lead agency in the investigation but is receiving a lot of help since it’s a small department with a mix of eight full-time officers and five part-time officers.
Counselors were on hand at Ottawa-Glandorf schools where the deceased boys attended in case students needed to talk, said Superintendent Kevin Brinkman.
YMCA Director Lori Fetherolf said Blake and Blaine were both members at the YMCA.
“Blaine was very active in our after-school activities,” Fetherolf said. “Both of the boys were always a pleasure to have around. They were never any trouble.”
Grothause had main custody of the two teens although her ex-husband shared custody at times and had the children every other weekend, according to divorce records filed in Putnam County.
Initially, they had joint custody but she accused her ex-husband’s new wife of physically abusing the children. The new wife, Lora A. Romes, 41, was sentenced to jail for 90 days in 2005 after a jury convicted her of misdemeanor domestic violence for punching Blake.
Grothause reported other incidents, too, according to court records.