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A 98-year-old went missing. Her strangled body turned up hidden in her closet, Ohio cops say

A missing 98-year-old Wadsworth, Ohio, woman's body was found hidden in her closet beneath clothes. Police arrested an 11th-grader on murder charges in the case.
A missing 98-year-old Wadsworth, Ohio, woman's body was found hidden in her closet beneath clothes. Police arrested an 11th-grader on murder charges in the case. Wadsworth Police Department

The first time police walked through the missing 98-year-old woman’s Wadsworth, Ohio, home, they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

But later in the day on April 9, on another search of the home, police made a startling discovery. Hidden beneath a pile of clothes in her own closet was Margaret Douglas’ body — and police immediately determined the circumstances were suspicious.

An autopsy is still being conducted, according to Wadsworth police, but authorities suspect Douglas was strangled to death, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. And on Monday, police arrested a suspect in the case: a 17-year-old junior at Wadsworth High School, according to a press release from the department.

Police tracked the juvenile suspect down in the Cleveland area after identifying him Monday, and Fairview Park police arrested him without incident. The suspect was then transferred to the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center.

"I believe he did know she lived alone, and so she was an easy target, vulnerable, but I can't tell you what was in his mind," Wadsworth Police Chief Randy Reinke told News 5 Cleveland, adding that evidence from the teen suspect’s phone puts him at the crime scene.

The suspect’s identity hasn’t been released because he is a juvenile and has not been formally charged in connection with Douglas’ death. Police said they suspect the 17-year-old acted alone.

The suspect lives in the same neighborhood as Douglas, police said, and he’s suspected of committing a string of break-ins targeting neighborhood cars and a trailer at a construction site. Police told News 5 Cleveland that they believe the suspect took Douglas’ wallet.

The teen suspect faces murder and abuse of a corpse charges, News 5 Cleveland reports.

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A relative from out of town had called police the morning of April 9 to report that no one had heard from Douglas since April 3, police said. Douglas had been last seen at the residence around April 5.

Douglas had owned the home with her late husband, who died nearly two decades ago, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Her Wadsworth home — with a rhododendron bush taller than Douglas in the side yard, and wicker chairs sitting on the front porch — was built more than a century ago, in 1917. Two years later, Douglas was born.

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