UPDATE @ 4:54 p.m.
Michael Strouse, the man sentenced today for the murder of West Chester’s Ellie Weik, came to court with two black eyes after a jail altercation.
“I am merely here in an attempt to apologize and take accountability for the reckless actions that led to the premature death of Ellie Weik,” Strouse said. “I never wanted to hurt anybody. If there was any way to bring Ellie back, I would trade places in a second.”
Strouse is responsible for the death of Weik at his Liberty Twp. home, located about one-quarter of a mile from the field where her body was found, by placing a plastic bag over her head, investigators said. Strouse was charged with the death on Aug. 25, 2018.
Weik went missing July 29 from her West Chester Twp. home. Her mother reported her missing Aug. 1, 2018.
Strouse’s family said Michael was “jumped and beaten” by an inmate at the Butler County Jail last weekend, which caused the black eyes. He was talking to them on video during visitation when it happened, they said.
BCSO Major Mike Craft confirmed there was an altercation, but said Strouse refused to prosecute. The inmate was disciplined internally.
UPDATE @ 1:58 p.m.
Michael Strouse has been sentenced to the maximum of 15 years to life in prison for the murder of a West Chester woman, plus an additional 2 ½ years in prison on other charges. He will not be eligible for parole for 17 ½ years.
Follow our reporter live from the courtroom:
A Liberty Twp. man who admitted to murdering a 23-year-old woman then wrapping her in a blanket and dumping her in a field across from his house will be sentenced today in Butler County Common Pleas Court, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Michael Strouse, 29, pleaded guilty to murder, gross abuse of a corpse and menacing by stalking on March 12 for the death of Ellen “Ellie” Weik. Charges of tampering with evidence and petty theft were dismissed in exchange for the plea. The aggravated murder charge also was lowered to murder.
Strouse faces life in prison with parole eligibility after 17 1/2 years, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Brad Burress.
The courtroom was filled when Strouse entered the guilty plea. The observers listened to the details of the crimes read by the prosecutors, including the fact that Strouse placed a plastic bag over Weik’s head, causing her death.
Strouse is responsible for the death of Weik at his Liberty Twp. home, located about one-quarter of a mile from the field where her body was found, officials said. Strouse was charged with the death on Aug. 25, 2018.
Weik went missing July 29 from her West Chester Twp. home. Her mother reported her missing Aug. 1.
“On or about July 29, Michael Strouse did cause the death of Ellen Weik … this defendant placed plastic wrap (over) Ellen Weik’s head, causing her death by suffocation,”Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich said in one court appearance.
The Butler County Coroner’s report states Weik’s cause of death as “cannot be determined.”
Weik’s remains were identified by dental records. Her body was largely skeletonized, according to the report. The head was covered with a plastic bag that was taped at the base, and a strip of tape was binding the arms to the body.
From January to July 2018, Strouse contacted Weik on numerous occasions through multiple text messages using multiple numbers while posing as other people or anonymous people, Muennich said.
“In February 2018, the defendant sent by Facebook messenger to Ellen Weik graphic and obscene photos of Ellen Weik,” he said.
In April 2018, Strouse went to Weik’s home and filmed her at night through a window, then sent her a portion of the video.
These actions caused mental distress to Weik, who made a police report for stalking and telephone harassment with the West Chester Police Department on April 22, 2018.
Strouse treated Weik’s dead body in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities “when the defendant, after murdering Ellen Weik, placed her nude body in a blanket and disposed of her in a field across from his house, bound in duct tape with plastic wrap around her head,” Muennich said.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the lack of cause of death for Weik, despite the evidence found with the body, was a factor in the office taking a plea.
“Absolutely, it left wiggle room and opened the door that a jury may believe anything the defense might have thrown at them,” Gmoser said.
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