Ashtabula resident charged with murder, accused of beating his wife to death with a rifle
Ralph Clark Sr. was quiet and respectful as he answered questions Monday in Ashtabula Municipal Court during his arraignment on an aggravated murder charge.
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Magistrate Jon T. Field ruled that Clark should be held without bond, pending a preliminary hearing on the charge, which is a first-degree felony.
Helen Waites, who owns the Park Avenue duplex and lived downstairs from Carolyn, said she heard glass breaking about 2 a.m. Saturday. She called a relative for help in notifying the police, and she heard screaming upstairs.
Waites had given her friend of 20 years a place to stay after Clark left her husband, 13 children and their church, Newborn Assembly, on Griggs Road in Plymouth Township. Clark moved in to the upstairs apartment Dec. 11. She was granted temporary custody of the couple’s eight minor children Wednesday.
According to police reports, Ralph E. Clark Sr. went to the apartment Friday evening to visit with the children.
“I heard hollering. I didn’t know who it was (coming in the house), so I yelled up the stairs that the police were coming, and to leave her alone,” Waites said.
“I heard someone coming down the stairs. I gave police a description of him and the vehicle he was driving.”
Waites said she knew who it was – Carolyn’s estranged husband, Ralph Clark.
Waites said she went upstairs, and one of the Clark children let her in.
“She was laying on the floor – dying,” Waites said. “The kids were there when it happened. Five of them. She was breathing real heavy; drowning in her own blood.”
Carolyn was still alive when police arrived, but she was pronounced dead at Ashtabula County Medical Center at 2:55 a.m., according to Ashtabula County Coroner Dr. Robert Malinowski.
Margaret Draper, assistant city solicitor, said the investigation into the incident showed that Ralph Clark tried to shoot Carolyn with a rifle, but the gun didn’t go off. So he beat her with it, Draper said.
The gun was broken during the attack, Draper said.
Ralph Clark was arrested without incident at his Plymouth Township home, on East Morgan Road, about 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
City Solicitor Tom Simon said he is “absolutely certain” that Ralph Clark committed the crime.
Simon met with Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini and Assistant Prosecutor Harold Specht Monday morning before filing the official charge against Clark.
At this time, it is not considered a capital murder case, Simon said.
“As of right now, it is an aggravated felony of the first degree,” Simon said. “It would have to have been done with prior calculation and design (to be a capital case).”
An investigation is continuing, Simon said.
Simon also noted that he heard that Carolyn Clark had not only received temporary custody of the children, but also that she planned to take them back to Virginia to live.
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