NEWTON FALLS - Friday's quadruple homicide in Newton Falls is the largest mass slaying in recent Trumbull County history.
A search of Tribune archives revealed a triple shooting in Warren in 1978, and a Girard mother and her two young sons were murdered in a house fire in 2005. Since the turn of the 21st century, Newton Township has been the scene of two double homicides.
Around noon Friday, Robert Brazzon, 55, fatally shot his girlfriend, Tracey Engler, 38, at the couple's 604-A Newton Drive home, then killed Rikki Cogley, 42, his wife Kathy Cogley, 39, and her son, 15-year-old Everett Greathouse, at their 72 Trumbull Court home, about a block away, police and others said.
About 4 p.m., when police closed in, Brazzon shot himself in the chest at the Newton Township Cemetery on Ridge Road and died a short time later after being rushed to the hospital.
Police Chief John Kuivila refused further comment Saturday, other than to refer to a news release from Friday. That release states that police are questioning another person in the case and that the department is being aided by the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Trumbull County Homicide Task Force.
"It's hard to tell (the motive). Obviously there's three different crime scenes to process," the chief previously told Tribune Chronicle partner WYTV 33 News. "There's a lot of work to do, a lot of evidence to gather, a lot of things to sort through and a lot of different people involved to put their heads together and sort through that as well."
An impromptu vigil was held Friday night, and on Saturday, candles and stuffed animals were stacked at a Newton Falls playground near the murders.
"Why? Basically, why? It don't happen in Newton Falls," neighbor Rick Brown told 33 News. "They never bothered nobody, so I can't understand why.
"He was a guy who wanted to take care of his family and be left alone.''
Neighbor and family friend Chris Sullivan said, "Everything is numbing.'' He said he remembered Brazzon once saying ''he had cancer and what not, and said that if he ever went, he was taking everybody.''
But he said the families seemed to get along.
According to Tribune Chronicle records, previous mass murders in Trumbull County include:
The case went unsolved for six years until a man arrested on a theft charge in 1978 told police about the crime. Three people were sentenced to prison for the case but all have been released.
It was later determined that Cross' throat was slit and the fire was ruled an arson. The boys were killed by smoke inhalation. The crime remains unsolved.
Three people were arrested and convicted for that crime. Police said they were trying to steal drugs and money from the victims.
Jermaine McKinney of Youngstown was arrested and convicted of both murders. Police said he used Cliburn to lure her mother to the home to rob her, then killed both women. He is serving a life sentence.
Three women who police said helped McKinney commit the crimes pleaded guilty to complicity charges.
It is believed the worst mass murder in the Mahoning Valley was in January of 2008, when six people died in an arson on Stewart Avenue on the East Side of Youngstown.
Michael Davis of nearby Bennington Avenue was tried for that crime and convicted and is serving a life sentence in prison.