Community members honor 4 killed in Butler Twp.: ‘This is our home and always will be’

Hundreds of people gathered Monday to remember four Butler Twp. residents who were killed last week in shootings that have rocked the small community.

Community members from the Vandalia-Butler community and the neighboring area came together for the prayer vigil at Butler High School, where 15-year-old Kayla Anderson was a student and Eva “Sally” Knox, 78, was a former transportation supervisor.

ExplorePHOTOS: Vigil honors 4 killed in Butler Twp. shooting

Family members of the victims spoke, sharing their appreciation for the community’s support.

“My family would like to thank everyone for showing up,” said Chris Knox, who was the son of shooting victims 82-year-old Clyde and Sally Knox. “My mother and father loved this community … They have been part of this community and this district for nearly 30 years.”

Chris thanked the community for the support and prayers his family has received since the loss of his parents, saying, “Nothing could possibly mean more.”

“This is our home and always will be,” Chris said.

Also killed in Friday’s slayings was Kayla Anderson’s mother, 41-year-old Sarah Anderson. Kelly Brockman, the father of Sarah Anderson and grandfather to Kayla, asked the community Monday to keep them alive by sharing their memories into the future.

“We know that they’re in total peace,” Brockman said about Sarah and Kayla, adding, “It doesn’t take the sting away.”

Brockman also addressed Kayla’s friends and teammates on the soccer team, saying, “You guys meant the world to her.”

Vandalia-Butler Superintendent Rob O’Leary called last Friday’s incidents the “manifestation of evil.”

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

“As horrible as all of this is, we’re strong,” O’Leary said. He said Sally Knox, while she was an employee of the school district, brought joy to students while also teaching kids about bus safety. When he spoke to Kayla Anderson’s friends, O’Leary said they spoke of her positivity and kindness, as well as how she was beautiful inside and out.

“She will not be forgotten,” O’Leary said.

Other community members spoke prayers during Monday’s vigil, including Bryson Jackson, Butler Twp. trustee, who recognized the efforts of local first responders, who received a standing ovation from the crowd.

“They have served our community well,” Jackson said.

Local community members in the crowd also expressed appreciation for the vigil as a moment of healing.

“It was really upsetting,” Elly Dukes, of Vandalia, said about Friday’s shooting. “Just seeing how the community came together, I think it’s really just nice.”

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Court hearing held Monday

Meanwhile, the man accused of killing the four people, Stephen Marlow, made his first court appearance Monday afternoon where he was ordered to remain in jail without bond.

Marlow, 39, was charged Monday in Vandalia Municipal Court with eight counts of aggravated murder, four counts of aggravated burglary and having weapons while under disability. He is accused of fleeing the state and appeared in a Kansas court.

During the court hearing Monday, Marlow was appointed counsel for the extradition process that will aim to bring him back to Ohio, Cheryl Cadue, public information officer for the Douglas County District Attorney, said. A fugitive in Kansas can decide whether to fight extradition. His counsel Monday afternoon did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Court records obtained from Vandalia Municipal Court by the Dayton Daily News revealed new details about what investigators say happened during the slayings. It also revealed how police quickly identified Marlow as their primary suspect.

Authorities wrote that on Friday at around 11:35 a.m., Marlow walked into the garage at 7120 Hardwicke Place and shot Sarah Anderson one time. He then walked into the residence and shot Kayla Anderson several times before returning to the garage and shooting Sarah Anderson again.

Marlow then went to 7214 Hardwicke Place and entered a detached garage close to the residence, where he shot the Knoxes several times, the records say.

A witnesses watched Marlow exit the garage of 7120 Hardwicke Place and talked to him, the records say.

“He stated he watched Stephen holster a gun and Stephen made a vague threat to him,” the affidavit says.

Another witness said he heard gunshots and looked out the window and saw a man matching Marlow’s description walk from 7214 Hardwicke Place and get into a white Ford SUV.

“The witness immediately followed up at 7214 Hardwicke to find his neighbors deceased in the detached garage.”

Authorities said they a found a home security camera at 7120 Hardwicke Place that captured Marlow’s actions.

“That camera captured and depicted Stephen entering the garage and murdering Sarah,” the court records say. “It then showed him enter the home to murder Kayla.”

A search warrant was executed at a home owned by Marlow’s parents, the records say.

“During that search, a manifesto was found on a computer that is believed to be Stephen’s. The manifesto is typed out and in it, Stephen states his name, address and goes through his life. He spoke of conspiracy theories and believing his neighbors were almost all sleeper cell terrorists. He mentioned voices in his head that spoke to him as well.”

Marlow was arrested Saturday night in Lawrence, Kansas. The department there held a press event Monday to recount his capture.

“Shortly after 8 p.m. this past Saturday, our patrol officers received information about an alleged homicide suspect being in our jurisdiction.” Lawrence police Lt. David Ernst said.

He said officers began to proactively search for the suspect, checking hotels and motels. An officer saw a vehicle matching the description of Marlow’s on the roadway. As officers approached, Marlow turned into a parking lot and exited his SUV and was taken into custody.

“We were fortunately at the right place at the right time and being alert and being able to identify the suspect,” Ernst said. He did not say why Marlow traveled to Kansas.

He said the department hopes Marlow’s arrest can help bring closure for the victim’s friends and families.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker