Police finish up investigation at Clark murder scene

Star Beacon/May 25, 2005
By Shelley Terry

Ashtabula — Police are wrapping up their inspection of the house where a 43-year-old woman was beaten to death Mother’s Day weekend, Acting Capt. Jim Oatman said Tuesday.

Carolyn Clark was killed May 7 at 4227 Park Ave., where she was staying with her five youngest children. Her estranged husband, Ralph Clark, 43, pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering her, and he remains in Ashtabula County Jail.

“The scene hasn’t been released yet,” Oatman said. “We’re making sure we have everything we need from there.”

Carolyn Clark just had been granted custody of the couple’s minor children and was planning to leave town with them. She wanted to return to Virginia.

Carolyn said she believed her husband and their older children were under the “mind control” of Charles Keyes, pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church, Body of Jesus Christ Newborn Assembly, in Jefferson Township, which she called a cult.

Prosecutors are investigating whether the church had a part in her death. Social services investigators are looking into child abuse allegations that Carolyn, and other former church members, made against the church.

As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed against any church members.

Ralph Clark’s court-appointed attorney, Hobart Shiflet, also has toured the Park Avenue home to familiarize himself with the crime scene, Oatman said.

When police are finished collecting evidence, resident landlord Heln Waytes, will be allowed to return to her home, Oatman said.

Waytes, who lived downstairs from Carolyn Clark, said she called police during the early morning hours of May 7 after hearing glass breaking and a lot of hollering coming from the upstairs apartment. Waytes looked out the window in time to see a man with a hooded sweat shirt leave in a dark-colored pickup. She has said the man did not look like Ralph Clark, but seemed taller and darker.

When Waytes went upstairs, she found Carolyn Clark spread out on the floor, bleeding from the back of her head.

As she grabbed a towel to put behind her friend’s head, the children told her they had seen a man with a gun.

“They didn’t say, ‘I saw Daddy,’” Waytes said. “They said they saw a man with a gun.”

The police arrived, and an officer put the children in the custody of Ashtabula County Children Services.

A few minutes later, people from the church arrived on the scene.

“They said, ‘We got a call.’ They beat the ambulance,” Waytes said. “I didn’t call them. Who called them?” Waytes asked.

Soon afterward, two more carloads of church members arrived, including church leader Charles Keyes.

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