‘Death penalty on table:’ Man indicted in Butler Twp. quadruple homicide

Marlow to be arraigned Nov. 16; manifesto says he heard voices, suspected neighbors of being ‘sleeper’ terrorists.

“The death penalty is on the table” for the man charged in the August fatal shootings of four neighbors, including a high school student and a military veteran, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said Thursday during a press briefing.

Stephen Alexander Marlow, 40, is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 16 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court after he was indicted Thursday by a county grand jury on 22 charges, including 12 counts of aggravated murder, eight counts of aggravated burglary and one count each of tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability, court records show.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

He is accused of the Aug. 5 shooting deaths of Clyde W. Knox, 82, his wife, Eva “Sally” Knox, 78, Sarah J. Anderson, 41, and her daughter Kayla E. Anderson, 15.

“This is truly a shocking and heinous crime, especially for the victims’ families and loved ones, but also for the residents of Butler Twp. and Vandalia,” Heck said. “The defendant, a graduate of Vandalia-Butler High School who then graduated also from the University of Kentucky, coldly shot and killed four defenseless neighbors, including a high school student and her mother as well as an elderly couple including a military veteran.

“The death penalty should be reserved for the most horrific and shocking crimes. This case certainly meets that criteria,” Heck said.

Attorneys representing Marlow did not respond to the Dayton Daily News’ requests for comment Thursday.

The last time the county sought the death penalty was in May 2017 against Claudena Helton, who shot and killed two of her three children. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2019.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Court records indicate that around 11:35 a.m. Aug. 5, Marlow walked into the open garage at 7120 Hardwicke Place and shot Sarah Anderson and then walked into the home and shot Kayla Anderson.

Sarah Anderson was a wife and mother who had just returned from grocery shopping, and Kayla Anderson was on the phone with a friend when they were shot, Heck said.

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He 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.

Clyde Knox was sitting in a lawn chair, and his wife was standing in the doorway of the garage when she was shot, Heck said.

“All of the victims had been shot multiple times and were deceased” when first responders arrived, Heck said.

A 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.”

The victims’ homes are on either side of Hardwicke’s intersection with Haverstraw Avenue. Marlow lived with his parents in a home they owned just around the corner on Haverstraw. A search warrant was executed at the Marlows’ house records say.

“During that search, a manifesto was found on a computer that is believed to be Stephen’s,” law enforcement documents filed in Vandalia Municipal Court state. “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.”

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Marlow was arrested Aug. 6 in Lawrence, Kansas, after an officer there spotted his 2007 Ford Edge.

He told FBI agents during an Aug. 6 interview that he knew he couldn’t have firearms — he was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated menacing in February 2020 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court following a July 2019 incident in Vandalia. And he “stated he deliberately circumvented that by traveling to Kentucky and meeting a private seller to obtain the firearms,” the court documents read. “Stephen admitted that his purpose for buying the firearms was to carry out his attack against the individuals he believed to be a part of a ‘terrorist cell.’ ”

That same day, investigators discovered a storage unit belonging to Marlow on Dixie Drive, where Marlow said he kept the firearms to hide them from his mother. Surveillance footage showed him entering the property the day of the shootings and leaving minutes before they occurred, according to court records.

Heck said he anticipates that Marlow’s defense may file a motion regarding whether he is competent to stand trial. Also possible is a motion alleging that he suffers a serious mental illness, which could make him ineligible for a death sentence in Ohio.

Attorneys representing Marlow did not comment on those topics.

Marlow is being held on a $10 million bond in the Montgomery County Jail, where he has been since Aug. 17 following his extradition to Ohio.

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