A suspect in the killings of an Ohio mother and her two daughters, along with the murders of a husband and wife a day later, is in custody after a standoff with police at a home in Brunswick that lasted more than nine hours, authorities say.
George Brinkman, 45, has been identified by WOIO-TV and police as the man who was holed up Monday night in the house on Valley Forge Road and as the suspect in the five Northeast Ohio slayings.
Brinkman is also a suspect in the killings of a couple in Stark County, Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Rogell Eugene John, 71, and his wife Roberta Ray John, 64, were found dead Monday, hours before the standoff began, the Stark County Sheriff’s Office said. They are believed to have died on Sunday or early Monday.
According to the Daily Mail, police told a reporter at the scene Brinkman was threatening suicide while drinking whiskey and waving a handgun at officers. Police used a megaphone to negotiate with him. SWAT officers, including snipers, srurrounded the house as police tried to convince Brinkman to surrender peacefully. Neighbors were told to stay inside for their own safety.
A shirtless Brinkman was taken into custody by SWAT officers about 5:30 a.m. Monday. No shots were fired, but officers used a Taser to take down the gun-wielding Brinkman.
Police told reporter Alyson Bruner that Brinkman is a squatter who has lived in homes in North Royalton and in Brunswick, where he was taken into custody.
He will be charged with two counts of murder in the Stark County case, the sheriff’s office said at a press conference. North Royalton Police are continuing to investigate and confirmed Brinkman is a suspect in the three killings there. Detectives say Brinkman was found with evidence connecting him to the North Royalton case.
The crime scenes are about an hour apart. The Taylor home in North Royalton is 46 miles from the Johns’ home in North Canton. The Valley Forge Road home in Brunswick, where Brinkman was captured, is about 50 miles from the North Canton scene, but just about 8 miles away from the North Royalton home where the three women were killed.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Detectives Say the Women’s Bodies Were Under Covers in the Mom’s Bed, Like They’d Been ‘Tucked In’
Suzanne Taylor, Taylor Pifer and Kylie Pifer were found dead inside Suzanne Taylor’s 11489 Ridge Road home on Sunday after they were discovered by Taylor Pifer’s boyfriend, who called Suzanne Taylor’s boyfriend, who then called 911, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
The call was made about 8 p.m. Sunday, but police believe the three women were killed at sometime on Saturday. They are believed to have been alive Saturday afternoon and died at some point after that.
In the 911 call, a dispatcher says, “There is someone in the house who advised that they found a body.”
You can listen to the 911 call below:
Scott Plymale, Suzanne Taylor’s boyfriend, told the 911 dispatcher that Taylor Pifer’s boyfriend was at the house.
“My girlfriend’s daughter’s boyfriend is in the house,” he said in the call. “They didn’t answer the door. He picked the lock and went in and he said the bedroom door was closed and he opened the door and he said, ‘There’s a body in here.'”
Plymale then called 911 for Kostar.
“He called me earlier and said, ‘Hey, something’s wrong, because all the cars are here and the door is locked and I don’t hear the dog.'”
Plymale told the dispatcher he had been at the house on Saturday and dropped off flowers, but didn’t hear the dog barking. All the cars were there. Kostar told Plymale the flowers were still outside when he went to the house. It is not clear what time Plymale delivered the floors.
Plymale said he tried calling the three women and the calls all went to voicemail.
According to Plymale, he was on the phone with Kostar when he found the body, and Plymale told Kostar he was hanging up to call 911.
Police and firefighters responded and found the three women dead in Suzanne Taylor’s bedroom. Detective Dave Loeding told People the killer or killers appear to have targeted the women and the attack was not random. Loeding called it a “tragic” incident.
He said the three women were found in Suzanne Taylor’s bed like they had been “tucked in.”
Police said it appears Taylor and Kylie Pifer were killed elsewhere in the home and moved to their mother’s bed after they were dead.
Investigators said Suzanne Taylor was stabbed prior to her death, while the causes of death for Taylor and Kylie have not been determined. Police initially said all three women had suffered gunshot wounds, but later said there was no visible sign of the daughters’ cause of death.
“There’s no gunshot wounds,” Loeding said. “It may have been implied early on. A knife was used in one death, I cannot tell you in the others because their was no visible sign how that occurred.”
No knife or other weapon was found at the scene, police said. Loeding said there were signs that pointed toward it being a triple homicide and not a murder-suicide.
“Let police work take it’s course, I know people need answers, I’d like to give you answers I don’t have, and as difficult as it is to understand, patience is really a big one here,” Loeding said. “There are many crimes where the obvious nature of what occurred is right there in front of you and I’m confident that we’re going to get much further down the road.
“But I think in this case there is a lot of pathology and there’s a lot of evidence that needs lab (testing). I think we’ll get to the conclusion,” the detective told reporters.
Investigators were at the scene for more than 12 hours.
2. Brinkman Was Watching the Stark County Couple’s Home While They Were on Vacation
In the Stark County case, a husband and wife, Rogell Eugene John, 71, and Roberta Ray John, 64, were found dead Monday by their son, WJW-TV reports. He went to check on them after he had not heard from them following their return from a vacation.
They were found about 4 p.m. at their home on Mount Pleasant Street in Lake Township, in North Canton, the sheriff’s office said. Their son had been trying to call them for hours. They had spoken to someone on Sunday and the sheriff’s office believes they were killed sometime late that night or Monday morning.
“They had been on vacation, and just returned home,” Sheriff George Maier told The Canton Repository. “And someone spoke to them yesterday (Sunday).”
The sheriff said at a press conference George Brinkman was an employee of the Johns and was house-sitting for the couple while they were away. He has also previously dated their daughter, according to the sheriff. He had no criminal history in Stark County.
“When we found out the Mr. Brinkman was also the house sitter for the deceased here, we started to make the connection,” Maier told reporters. “I think it’s unusual that you find a suspect that’s involved in five homicides.”
According to the sheriff, the couple likely knew their attacker, because there were no signs of forced entry. He said neighbors should not be concerned for their safety.
The sheriff’s office said they are waiting for the Stark County Coroner’s Office to release the official causes of death for the couple, according to a press release. Investigators have a “person of interest” in the killings, according to the statement.
Gene John and Brinkman were friends on Facebook, according to Brinkman’s page.
3. Brinkman Is Mentioned in the 911 Call From the North Royalton Murder & Was Facebook Friends With Taylor & Her Daughters, Often ‘Liking’ Their Photos
In the 911 call made by Suzanne Taylor’s boyfriend, Scott Plymale, he mentions that he saw the three women’s cars at the home, along with a car belonging to their “friend,” George, an apparent reference to the suspect, George Brinkman.
Brinkman and Taylor went to school together as children and have been friends fors everal years.
On Facebook, Brinkman is friends with the three victims and has liked many of their photos.
On one July 2016 photo of Suzanne Taylor showing her sitting on a lifeguard chair, Brinkman replied, “Very nice pic…the Queen on her Thrown…”
On another photo, in August 2016, he wrote, “Hot…hot…hot….man it looks hot there….lmao.” Taylor replied, “George knows that I don’t think I’m hot hot hot! He was sarcastically messing with me. Lol.” And he said back, “No..that WAS my point..that you are..you just need to believe.”
According to public records, Brinkman has lived in Medina, Ohio, since July 2002. He has also lived in Cleveland, Northfield, North Canton and North Olmstead, all in Ohio.
He has a criminal record, including for forgery and theft. But police said they are not aware of any history of violent crimes or domestic violence.
He was arrested in September 1998 in Cuyahoga County and charged with receiving stolen property and unauthorized access to a computer system, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to both charges in November of the same year and was sentenced to probation.
While in prison on those charges, Brinkman was indicted in December 1999 in Cuyahoga County and charged with several counts of forgery, theft and receiving stolen property, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in February 2000 to the forgery, theft and receiving stolen property charges and was sentenced to 11 months in prison, with credit for 30 days served, along with three years of probation. He was released in September 2000.
Further details about his record were not immediately available.
4. He Freed a Woman From the House During a Standoff With Police Lasted Several Hours
Police in Brunswick, Ohio, were in a standoff on Valley Forge Road with George Brinkman for several hours, WEWS-TV reports. Police from several agencies were at the scene and officers were communicating with him to try to bring him out of the house. The standoff began about 8 p.m. Monday and ended about 6 a.m.
No shots were fired during the incident, but police did use a Taser to take Brinkman into custody. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation, authorities said. He was later taken to the North Royalton jail.
“When you negotiate with someone obviously you want it to be a peaceful ending,” Brunswick Police Lieutenant Robert Safran told reporters. “It helps to operate under the cover of darkness.”
According to WJW-TV, the suspect knows the people who live at the house, and had been squatting there. A woman was inside the home, but was released unharmed, police told the news station.
According to WOIO-TV, one of its reporters came in contact with Brinkman on Facebook on Monday, while reporting on the triple homicide. The reporter contacted police immediately when she realized who the person she was communicating with was, in an attempt to aid police with their efforts. The reporter was in contact with police when she arrived at the Brunswick home on Monday.
The reporter, Lacey Crisp, said she reached out to Brinkman, who had been friends with Suzanne Taylor since they were in grade school, on Monday. She said they set up an interview and “he kind of blew me off, didn’t talk to me, and then he contacted me again and then he stopped talking to me. And I had gotten a message earlier tonight saying police were responding in Brunswick, possibly involving this case.”
Crisp said Brinkman sent her a message shortly after that saying the police were at his house. “He said ‘please come, the cops have come for me, I’m barricaded,” Crisp said. According to Crisp, she asked him to explain what was going on and he said it was a “hostage situation.”
Crisp said she had already contacted Brunswick Police and they were monitoring the conversation. The reporter talked to Brinkman while police were outside the house.
“He was saying ‘This is not going to end well. They want to talk to me about what happened to Sue. And I loved her, I loved her kids, I would never do anything to her,” Crisp said. She said he sent one last message saying he was talking to police and wanted her to “let everyone know that I would never hurt Sue or the kids, I loved them too much.”
The U.S. Marshal’s Task Force helped in finding the suspect, including using GPS to track him, authorities said.
5. Suzanne Taylor Worked as a Real Estate Appraiser, While Her Daughters Were Both Students at Local Colleges
Suzanne Taylor was originally from Parma Heights, Ohio, and graduated from Valley Forge High School in 1990, according to her Facebook page.
Taylor, who also went by Sue and Susie, then graduated from Hiram College, also in Ohio, with degrees in psychology, sociology and political science.
She worked as a real estate appraiser for Forsythe Appraisals, a job she started in 2013, and as an administrator at REO Property Consultants, since 2012.
“Forty years of friendship is hard, it’s hard to let go, it’s hard to wrap my head around all of this, that she’s gone and her children are gone,” friend Rhonda Whitelock told WJW-TV. “I want to be able to remember her life and be able to talk and share some memories that are good, and I want people to know what a great person she was and how fun she was, always laughing, always positive.”
Brianna Wadsworth, a childhood friend of Taylor’s daughter, wrote on Facebook, “Suzanne is over all an amazing lady and I’m glad I got to have her in my life growing. I love you guys with all my heart but know you’ll be missed dearly.”
Taylor Pifer graduated from North Royalton High School in 2014 and just completed her junior year at Kent State University, according to her Facebook page. She was studying fashion design there.
Her college friend, Nicole Barrett, wrote on Facebook, “My rock, my person, and my best friend. Rip to the girl who’ve I’ve learned to love country music with, to screaming Chainsmokers in the car, to our adventures at KSU. Extremely heartbroken and it won’t be the same without you Tay. Fly high love you all??”
Taylor played softball in high school and worked at the Kent State Fashion Management Store in college. She also worked at Forever 21 and The Hunt, as a fashion scout, according to her resume.
“Life’s too short to sit and wait for luck to come your way,” she wrote on her Facebook profile intro.
Kylie Pifer was going to turn 19 on June 18 and would be entering her sophomore year at Bowling Green State University in the fall.
Jay Patton, a college friend, wrote on Facebook, “Rest In Peace Kylie Pifer…you were one of the very first friends I made at BG & I will never forget you & the kindness you showed me ? I haven’t been able to stop crying since I heard the news…it still feels so unreal.”
She was studying biology at the school and was also involved in theater.
“It’s just not right and those kids were just starting out their life…they didn’t deserve it, none of them did,” family friend Rhonda Whitelock told WJW-TV.
Taylor Pifer’s friend, Brianna Wadsworth, wrote on Facebook, “Rest in peace to my soulmate and her family. We have created so many memories growing up. Taylor & I were practically inseparable. She even went to warped tour with me even tho it wasn’t her taste in music but she still found a way to make the day a blast. It’s crazy to think we talked about a week ago making plans to hang out next time I’m in town. Kylie & I went to the same college so we always found an excuse to meet up for lunch or dinner and go to different events on campus.”
In June 2016, along with a photo taken at Kylie’s high school graduation, Suzanne Taylor wrote on Facebook, “I can’t believe both of my girls are so grown up. Freshman and junior in college in the fall. I am so proud. Great kids I have.”
Taylor and Kylie Pifer lived with their mother and had been estranged from their father, Brian Pifer, for about a year, their stepmother, Sonya Pifer, told WEWS-TV.
“Leaving their father, it blindsided everybody in our families,” Sonya Pifer told the news station. “We had a great relationship, I mean, we never saw it coming. So we don’t know what happened or why.”
Sonya Pifer did not say if she knew why the girls broke off their relationship with their father, if she knew what that reason was.
Photos on Sonya Pifer’s Facebook page showed her with Brian Pifer and his daughters several years ago on vacations and at events.
“They were so good, they were great students, Taylor played softball, for the city and then she went on to a travel league,” Sonya Pifer said. “Kylie was involved in theater, she was going to school to be a forensic scientist. Taylor was in fashion design. They were great kids.
The relationship between Suzanne Taylor and Brian Pifer was not immediately clear. It is not known if they were ever married, or if they were, when they were divorced.
A vigil is scheduled for Wednesday night, June 14, at North Royalton High School, at 8:30 p.m., according to WEWS-TV.
“We ask for your prayers and any assistance you can give the police in catching who did this to our beloved beauties,” the Pifer family said in a statement.
According to an obituary published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the funeral for Taylor and Kylie Pifer will be held on Friday, June 16, at Cuyahoga Valley Church in Broadview Heights at 10:30 a.m. A wake will be held Thursday night at the A. Ripepi & Sons Funeral Home in Middleburg Heights from 3 to 8 p.m.
The family asks that donations be made to a charity of your choice in their names.
Separate services are being planned for Suzanne Taylor, friends say.