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Monday, December 2, 2019

The Thomas Fritz Murder Case

     Thomas Fritz grew up in Sylvania, a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. In 1997, he joined the Ohio National Guard, and six years later, served a year in Iraq with a Guard military police unit. The 30-year-old graduated from suburban Toledo's Owens Community College in 2004 with an associates degree in criminal justice. His aspirations for a career in law enforcement came to an end in 2006 when, after having sexual intercourse with a woman who had passed out drunk, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery. The judge, who declared Fritz a "sexually oriented offender," sentenced him to one year in an Ohio prison.

     In December 2011, Thomas Fritz moved into a white, two-story house in Blissfield, Michigan, a small town in the southeastern part of the state 20 miles northwest of Toledo. The 38-year-old shared the dwelling with his girlfriend, 33-year-old Amy Merrill and her two son from a previous relationship. Fritz and Merrill also had a toddler of their own. In late June 2012, Merrill ended her relationship with Fritz who continued to reside in the Blissfield house with her and the children.

     Late Friday night, July 13, 2012, following an altercation in the Blissfield house which at the time was occupied by Amy Merrill, her 24-year-old sister Lisa Gritzmaker, and their 52-year-old mother, Robin Lynn McCowan, Fritz opened fire on the family with a rifle. He killed the sisters and wounded their mother. Lisa Gritzmaker was 8-months pregnant.

     After Fritz fled the murder scene in his maroon 2002 Honda, the wounded Robin Lynn McCowan called 911. The Lenawee County prosecutor charged Fritz with two counts of open murder, and one count of assault with intent to commit murder.

     A man Thomas Fritz had worked for owned a remote cabin in Tyler County, West Virginia 80 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fritz had stayed at this cabin before.  After murdering his wife and her sister, and wounding their mother, Fritz headed for West Virginia.

     The Tyler County cabin sat deep in the woods off Cow House Road three miles south of a wide spot in the highway called Sistersville, a village comprised of a store and one gas station. Someone who spotted Fritz driving through town called the sheriff's office. On Tuesday, July 17, 2012, a U.S. Marshal saw Fritz, armed with a rifle, enter the cabin. By nightfall the place was surrounded by U.S. Marshals and Tyler County sheriff's deputies.

     That night, while surveilling the cabin, officers heard a gunshot from inside. After firing teargas canisters into the hide-out, officers entered the structure where they found Thomas Fritz dead in a back bedroom with a bullet in his head. Inside the cabin, officers found two assault rifles, a shotgun, and a gas mask.    

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate that your post doesn't glorify him the way that some others have. This man was a cold blooded murderer, but reading his obituary you'd never know he wasn't a hero. There really is no justice in this kind of situation, but knowing he's gone has definitely helped our family sleep easier at night.

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