Akron -- A Tallmadge man pleaded not guilty to charges levied against him in the double homicide of his former girlfriend and son in August.
Daniel Tighe, 39, most recently of Akron, pleaded not guilty to all charges Oct. 9 during an arraignment in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas before Magistrate Kandi O'Connor, according to defense attorney Joseph Gorman.
Tighe has been accused in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Wendy Ralston, 31, and their son, Peyton Ralston, 5. He is charged with aggravated murder with two specifications for death, and murder, both first-degree felonies; two counts of tampering with evidence, third-degree felonies; two counts of domestic violence, fourth-degree felonies; and two counts of gross abuse of a corpse, fifth-degree felonies.
If convicted of aggravated murder with at least one death specification, Tighe could be sentenced to death.
Tighe has been in the Summit County Jail since Oct. 3. His bond has been set at $1 million.
"As a department, we're very happy," said Tallmadge Police Lt. Ron Williams about Tighe's indictment. "This is the outcome we hoped for, and we're eagerly awaiting his defense."
Gorman told the Tallmadge Express that he and co-defense attorney Brian Pierce are in the process of obtaining and reviewing evidence.
On Oct. 8, Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh announced her office had filed the indictment against Tighe for the murders.
"October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and unfortunately, this case illustrates how a violent domestic relationship can easily turn deadly and how children, who often witness the abuse, are not immune to the same violence," said Walsh. "While domestic violence does not always escalate to murder, close to a third of all female murder victims were killed by an intimate partner."
The case unfolds
Tallmadge police, with the help of the Akron Bureau of Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, arrested Tighe Oct. 3 "without incident." He had been staying in a camper since the remains of Wendy and Peyton were found in a wooded area behind their Stone Creek Drive home on Aug. 10.
Marie Ralston, Wendy's mother, found the bodies, which were wrapped in a bedsheet and comforter inside a duffel bag, while searching the dense wooded area after becoming suspicious of the whereabouts of her daughter and grandson, according to police and the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.
Police became aware they were missing when a neighbor reported they hadn't been seen since July 31, but when police spoke with Tighe at the residence, officers said they didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Tighe lived with Wendy and Peyton at the time they were reported missing, police said.
Marie reported her daughter missing on Aug. 7, telling police she last heard from her on July 22 when Wendy posted a message on Facebook. One minute after Marie's report, Tighe reported Wendy and Peyton missing.
Three days later, Marie found the duffel bag.
Agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched the home and grounds and collected evidence in the days following the discovery of the bodies.
The Medical Examiner's Office identified the first set of remains as Wendy on Aug. 12 and the second as Peyton one day later.
Forensic experts at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania, including an anthropologist and entomologist, examined the bodies as part of the police investigation with the hope of determining a time and cause of death.
According to police, the medical examiner has not yet released an official cause of death.
Marie and her ex-husband, Bill Ralston, both of Tallmadge, were raising Wendy's other child, a 13-year-old daughter. She continues to be in their care.
A memorial service was conducted late last month to remember the victims.
Editor's note: Reporter Holly Schoenstein contributed to this article.
Contact Jaime Gerard at 330-541-9429 or email@example.com
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