Butler Twp. shooting: 4 killed, police ID person of interest

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Four people were shot and killed late Friday morning in a quiet neighborhood in Butler Twp., and police said Friday afternoon they were seeking a person of interest in connection with the crime.

Butler Twp. Police Chief John Porter said officers were dispatched to the area of Hardwicke Place and Haverstraw Avenue around 11:45 a.m. and located “multiple crime scenes” and four victims with gunshot wounds. All four people died at the scene.

The chief identified 39-year-old Stephen Marlow as a person of interest in the deaths. Police described him as a 5-foot-11, 160-pound white male with short brown hair. He was last seen wearing shorts and a yellow T-shirt, and Porter said he was possibly driving a white 2007 Ford Edge SUV with Ohio license plate JES-9806.

Two homes were surrounded by crime scene tape near the intersection of Hardwicke and Haverstraw. One of the homes, in the 7200 block of Hardwicke, shares part of a back fence with a house in the 2600 block of Haverstraw that is owned by a Marlow family, according to county property records.

“If anyone sees (Stephen) Marlow or knows of the vehicle, they should call 911 immediately and not approach him, as he is likely to be armed and dangerous,” Porter said. “We don’t believe that there is any ongoing threat to the neighborhood at this time, but we will continue to have crews in the area in case Marlow would return.”

The names of the victims have not been released, and it is not clear what led to the shooting.

“We are working to determine if there is any motive to this horrible tragedy or if mental illness played any role,” Porter said.

A man at the scene of Friday’s shootings would not give his name, but said his daughter and granddaughter were killed in the shootings.

The Butler Twp. neighborhood where the shooting happened sits about a mile west of the Miller Lane development, just south of Little York Road.

“This is the first violent crime in this neighborhood in recent memory,” Porter said.

Wendy Chapman lives next door to one of the Hardwicke Place houses wrapped with crime scene tape.

“I don’t know how to feel. I’m still stunned,” she said, describing the neighborhood as “so quiet. … At this point, I’m pissed. I feel violated. My question is why. I can’t even imagine.”

She described her neighbors — a couple and their daughter — as a “nice, normal family.”

“We weren’t close but always very friendly. Their teen daughter, she was friendly,” Chapman said. “We’d always see them out there when we were out there cutting grass and always (talk) back and forth. You know … just neighbor stuff.”

Porter encouraged residents in the area to remain vigilant and to review any security camera footage they may have from earlier Friday.

“We ask that anyone with any possible information regarding this incident or the whereabouts of Marlow to call our dispatch center at 937-233-2080.”

Marlow of Haverstraw Avenue was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated menacing in February 2020, stemming from a July 2019 incident in Vandalia. He was sentenced to five years of community control but that probation was terminated Feb. 9, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.

Porter said Butler Twp. police were getting support from Vandalia police and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, as well as state and federal officials. He said the Dayton Bomb Squad was brought in as “an abundance of caution” to ensure there are no further imminent threats to the normally quiet neighborhood.