WAPAKONETA — Thirty-two years ago, Marcellus Reineke’s life ended when someone stabbed him in the chest, the knife piercing his heart.
Since his death, no one was ever convicted. It remained unsolved until just weeks ago when Auglaize County officials announced a break in the case. They charged a Florida man with aggravated murder.
On Friday, 52-year-old Paul Hoover walked in the courtroom in handcuffs and jail garb to enter a not guilty plea. He had little else to say other than agreeing to waive his right to a speedy trial to give his attorney, Gerald Siesel, more time to prepare a defense.
Prosecutor Ed Pierce, who rarely sees a murder case and has struggled in the past to obtain convictions in homicide cases, declined comment.
Discussions between the judge and prosecutor indicated Hoover will be tried under the aggravated murder law at the time, which carries a possible life sentence.
No trial date was scheduled but a pretrial for Feb. 28 was set. Visiting Judge Reginald Routson of Hancock County is handling the case since the current judge, Frederick Pepple, was the prosecutor at the time of the alleged crime.
The killing happened Oct. 13, 1981. St. Marys Police launched an investigation that seemed to go nowhere. The attention of a murder in a small town not used to having homicides faded over the years.
But after Hoover’s arrest Dec. 13, 2013, in Florida and his return to Ohio after waiving extradition, the case is once again in the forefront of news. Assistant Prosecutor Benjamin Elder told the judge he turned over 1,034 pages of investigative records and 43 CDs containing information in the case to Siesel.
Hoover was 19 at the time of the alleged crime. The 71-year-old Reineke was found dead inside his apartment at 229 S. West St. He had been dead at least a day or two. Relatives found his body after they were unable to reach him and went to check, officials said.
A motive was never released, but authorities recently said there may be others charged.
Reineke was a retired farmer who was born in Rhine, Ohio, who had four sisters and a brother that survived him. His obituary did not list a wife.