Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey (left) and Rockford Police Chief Paul May (right) speak Friday morning at a press conference. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey (left) and Rockford Police Chief Paul May (right) speak Friday morning at a press conference. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)

BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

CELINA - A Rockford man remains at large - the subject of a manhunt in the aftermath of the shooting death of Melinda S. Shinn at the couple's home early Thursday morning.

On Friday morning, Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey was joined by Rockford Police Chief Paul May and Rockford Mayor Amy Joseph for an update on the investigation and search for the suspect. Grey did disclose that the victim's nine-year-old child was present in the mobile home when the shooting occurred. That child was unharmed and is now staying with relatives.

Shinn, 26, was discovered shot to death Thursday morning at the mobile home she had shared for a couple of years with Daniel C. Martin on North St. in Rockford. Martin, 40, is now the subject of a manhunt.

"Right now we have in our possession a warrant for the arrest of Daniel C. Martin," Grey stated. "Daniel Martin lived in that residence, was the boyfriend of the victim. He is 40 years old. The description of him - he's a black male, 5-foot-11-inches tall, 230 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. We have not located him at this point. We have other law enforcement agencies trying to help us located him."

After interviews and an initial investigation, authorities were able to present enough evidence to get a warrant for Martin's arrest just after 5 p.m. Thursday. Grey's office released the description of a vehicle which Martin was thought to have been driving. That red 1998 Ford Explorer has been located and impounded by police in Fort Wayne, but Martin remains at large.

Grey said that the couple had been arguing throughout Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

"That's verified by people even outside of the home, as there were text messages and things that were sent from the victim to people outside of the home. We believe it was in the early morning hours that a firearm was used to cause her death," he said. Grey remained tight-lipped on further details such as the number of gunshots and the location in the trailer where Shinn's body was found when police arrived around 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Rockford Police Chief Paul May was the officer to find Shinn inside the trailer. He stated that he had known Shinn and had coached her son's football team.

"We've never had an incident like this in the Village of Rockford," May declared. "I've been there 20 years, and grew up there. Nothing like this. In the area maybe, but not in the village."

Rockford Mayor Amy Joseph agreed, "I think the people in Rockford are shaken a little bit, still in shock. Like Chief [May] said, this is something that does not happen in our village. I've been assured though by the Sheriff's Department and Chief May that this wasn't just a random thing. It was between two people and the village is still safe and doesn't have anything to worry about."

Grey confirmed this is the first homicide in Mercer County since the deaths of Robert and Colleen Grube last November. He added that it is just the fourth murder handled by the Mercer County Sheriff's Office in the past 12 years.

The investigation and the manhunt are ongoing at this time. Grey stated that an autopsy was to be scheduled Friday afternoon in Lucas County.

As for the search for Martin, Grey indicated that he is working with many other law enforcement agencies, especially the Fort Wayne Police Department. Besides Martin's vehicle being found in that city, Martin also is known to have family in that area.

Martin also has a lengthy criminal record which includes at least one firearms charge. "He's known to have some violent tendencies. He is entered into the computer as armed and dangerous," said Grey. "We do believe that he is currently still armed, so we would suggest that the public, if you see him, call your local law enforcement agency... Do not approach him. We don't know what he is capable of. At this point I'm sure he's scared, and I'm sure he knows we're looking for him."

Law enforcement had been called to the North St. residence previous, according to records, and several EMS runs were made for an elderly person who formerly also lived with the couple at that address.

One emphasis of the manhunt is Fort Wayne where Martin is believed to have at least one child and other family, although Grey promised that if the suspect is located, his department will make sure to go bring him back to Mercer County.

He also warned anyone who might consider harboring Martin. "If anybody knows where he is, you can't let him stay at your house, you can't help him, you can't assist him. If anybody does that, that would be a criminal violation under Ohio law. If we found out that happened, we would arrest them too. It is important that we get him picked up, bring him into jail, and we get the court process started, and he'll have his day in court."