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Monday, August 29, 2011

Copley Police Identify Michael Hance as Gunman in Killing Spree (Updated)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM


Update VI: Two big updates to the Copley murder spree story this morning.

1) NewsNet5 reports that cops have met with the lone survivor, Rebecca Dieter, who was the girlfriend of the shooter, Michael Hance. No word yet on what she had to say except that Hance shot her twice in the back. The good news is that she is able to speak, though there are scant details on her condition beyond that. Hopefully she can shed some light on what drove Hance to kill seven innocent people and make a full recovery.

2) The ABJ has a fantastic and heart-breaking piece on Melonie Bagley, the 28-year-old mother whose house 11-year-old Scott Dieter sought refuge at as Hance, who was just steps behind, chased and hunted him. The boy went to the basement as Bagley locked down the house and tried to protect her kids. Hance wouldn't relent, breaking through a door and murdering the child with a gunshot to the head. Bagley's first-hand account of encountering Hance and protecting her children as Hance searched the dark basement for his final victim are beyond sad. A must-read. (


Update V: Via True Crime Report, it seems that at least some of the problems might have something to do with the house that Hance and Rebecca Dieter (who is still in the hospital, by the way) had inherited and lived in.

Neighbors say the home had gone to junk and that Hance even had an old car on blocks in the yard — the ubiquitous white trash conversation piece.

That prompted neighbors to complain to the couple. Nextdoor neighbor Gudrun "Gerdie" Johnson asked Hance to clean it up. She later told others that Hance was so mad he told her to get off his property and to never come back.

Others had reportedly complained to the township trustees about the state of the home.

So Craig Johnson drove up from Kentucky to settle the problem. He wanted the home sold, but Hance didn't seem to be going for that idea. That may be why he made such an effort to hunt down and kill Craig's 11-year-old son Scotty.

Another detail: TCR says Hance and Dieter had been dating for 20 years.


Update IV: Hance used two guns during his rampage. One of them, NewsNet5 reports, he bought last week from a pawn shop. He had no criminal record, so he easily passed the background check. Also, cops have released the name of the officer who took Hance down.


Update III: A somewhat clearer composite of Michael Hance is emerging after reporters spoke with neighbors. "Eccentric" seems to be the word of the day. For instance, "He would place a kayak in the driveway and pretend to paddle," according to the PD. Consensus from folks in the area was that he was strange but helpful. Still, the jump from being strange to being a murderer is a large one, and police are still looking to fill in that chasm with more than anecdotes about Hance being weird.


Update II: Police have released the identity of the other student who was killed: 16-year-old Amelia Shambaugh. (NewsNet5) Also, the PD has a map in this article tracing the path of Hance as he hunted and killed his victims, along with anecdotes from neighbors. All incredibly sad. Cops still looking for a motive.


Update: As police continue to unravel the events of Sunday's massacre, a stream of details will follow. They will be undoubtedly heartbreaking, but necessary as everyone tries to piece together just why and how seven people were brutally shot and killed. One of those gut-wrenching details: Hance allegedly chased the 11-year-old, broke into a locked house where the boy had sought refuge, held a gun to a woman's head demanding to know where he was hiding, went into the basement where the boy had gone to escape, then shot him in the head in front of a 9-year-old who was with him. (WEWS)


Copley police held a news conference around noon this afternoon to discuss the weekend's tragic and saddening killings that took the lives of seven innocent victims, plus the gunman.

51-year-old Michael Hance was identified as the shooter. He was the live-in boyfriend of Rebecca Dieter, 49, who was shot, but was not killed. Police are still looking for motives in the murders, noting that Hance had no prior criminal history.

“We have no idea what prompted this incident whatsoever,” detective Joe Krunich said.

Via WEWS, the victims are: Two students — 16-year-old Autumn Johnson, who went to Copley-Fairlawn High School, and another student whose name has not been released yet; Autumn Johnson's father, Bryan Johnson, 44; Johnson's grandparents, Russell, 67, and Gudrun, 64; Craig Dieter, 51, and Scott Dieter, his son, 11.

Thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and the residents of Copley.

For further reading, this AP article piecing together the chain of events is both sad and informative.

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