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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Eli Weaver/Barbara Raber Murder Case

     In 2009, Eli Weaver, his wife Barbara, and their five children resided in central Ohio's Amish heartland. He owned a gun shop near his Wayne County farm near Apple Creek. Over the past several years, leaders of the Amish community had thrown him out of the church for running around with English women he had met online. Eli would ask for forgiveness, be accepted back into the fold, then get into trouble again with the same un-Amish behavior.

     The 23-year-old Amish man, in 2003, met Barbara Raber, a woman who had grown up Amish but had left the church. The 33-year-old from Millersburg, Ohio made extra money driving Amish people from place to place. The relationship between Eli and his driver eventually became sexual.

     Beginning in the fall of 2008, Weaver and Raber began discussing how to murder his wife. In 2009, they exchanged a series of text messages in which they discussed various plans on how to pull off the crime.

      At seven on the morning of June 2, 2009, one of the Weaver children ran to a neighbor's house with shocking news. Someone, during the night, had shot and killed his mother in her bed. Eli, at that moment, was fishing on Lake Erie. The neighbor and the boy entered the Weaver house where Barbara  Weaver lay in her blood-soaked bed with a gaping gunshot wound in her chest.

     At 11:30 that morning, Wayne County Coroner Dr. Amy Joliff pronounced Barbara Weaver dead at the scene. Dr. Lisa Kohler, the Summit County Chief Medical Examiner, performed the autopsy. According to the forensic pathologist, the victim had been killed by a single shotgun blast to the right side of her chest. Several shotgun pellets were removed from the corpse. Dr. Kohler estimated the time of death as sometime between midnight and three o'clock that morning.

     John Gardner, a firearms expert with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation identified the death scene pellets as number six shot. While this ammunition could have been fired from shotguns of four different gauges, the firearms identification expert believed the murder weapon was a .410-gauge shotgun.

     Detectives with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office seized two .410 shotguns from Eli Weaver's gun shop. Officers also recovered a box of .410 shells with one round missing. Investigators in the murder house found an amount of cash sitting on a table suggesting that robbery had not been the motive in this killing.

     Questioned by detectives upon his return from the Lake Erie fishing trip, Eli denied any involvement in his wife's murder.

     On June 10, 2009, detectives arrested Eli Weaver after he confessed to helping Barbara Raber murder his wife. She had pulled the trigger while he was fishing.

     That day, pursuant to a search of Raber's house in Millersburg, officers found a notebook in which she had written out a list of various poisons. At the police station following her arrest, she denied knowledge of the murder. She explained the incriminating text messages to and from Eli as nothing more than joking around.

     The day after Raber's arrest, upon further questioning, the suspected trigger woman admitted going to the Weaver house around four in the morning armed with a .410-gauge shotgun. Eli had left the basement door unlocked for her. She said her intent was merely to frighten Barbara Weaver, but when she entered the bedroom, the gun discharged accidentally. Raber's interrogators didn't buy the accidental shooting story, but asked her to sign a written statement to that effect. She refused and asked to see a lawyer. The interrogation, at that point, came to an end.

     On August 17, 2009, Eli Weaver agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. As part of the plea deal, he promised to testify for the prosecution at Barbara Raber's murder trial.

     The Raber murder trial got underway on September 16, 2009 in Wooster, Ohio with Judge Robert J. Brown presiding. Wayne County prosecutor Edna J. Boyle, following testimony from the county coroner, the medical examiner, and several police officers, put Dena Unangst on the stand. Unangst had been the defendant's cellmate at the Wayne County Jail. According to this witness, Raber admitted to her that she had purchased a .410 shotgun after Eli Weaver, on numerous occasions, begged her to murder his wife. Raber also asked Unangst if she knew how long a fingerprint could last on a gun. (Under ideal conditions, 50 years or more.)

     Gun store owner Larry Miller took the stand and testified that the defendant had purchased a .410 on November 15, 2008.

     On September 30, 2009, prosecutor Boyle put the shunned Amish man on the stand. Elie Weaver, now 29, testified that when he mentioned getting rid of his wife, a woman he didn't love, Raber "ran away with the idea." At one point, during one of their homicide planning conversations, she gave him a bottle of what she called "poison pills." Eli said he rejected poisoning as a way of killing his wife.

     On the day before the murder, Eli informed Raber that at three the next morning he would be leaving the house on a fishing trip. He'd leave the basement door open for her. Shortly after he left the house that morning, Raber sent him a text in which she asked how she was supposed to see in the dark. "It's too scary," she wrote. Eli advised her to take a flashlight.

     At 3:25 AM Raber texted, "I'm scared, where are you?" Texting that he was in Wooster, Eli cautioned Raber not to leave anything behind at the murder scene.

     According to the prosecutor's star witness, on June 9, 2009, the day before Eli and his trigger woman were arrested, they had a conversation in his barn. She described the night she killed Barbara Weaver and said she was "sorry for everything." Before parting company, Raber asked Eli how to clean a gun so it looked like it hadn't been recently fired.

     Assistant public defender John J. Leonard tried to convince the jury that Eli Weaver, not his client, had murdered the victim. The defense attorney described Raber's incriminating statement to detectives as the product of fear and confusion. Leonard rested his defense without putting Barbara Raber on the stand.

     On October 1, 2009, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged. Judge Brown sentence the 39-year-old woman to 23 years in prison. Eli Weaver had been sentenced by this judge the day before to 15 years to life.

     Weaver's light sentence illustrates, from the point of view of a guilty murder mastermind, the value of pleading guilty and testifying against an accomplice. Raber's sentence, given the cold-bloodedness of the killing and the innocence of the victim, was also extremely lenient.  

32 comments:

  1. Barbara didn't grow up "English." She was a little Amish girl in my class. However, if I'm correct, she was a fetal alcohol baby (or mother was on drugs or something like that) and an Amish family adopted her.

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    1. so how does that lessen the fact that her husband is a dirt-bag who deserves to die?

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    2. The Barbara that "Anonymous" is referring to is Barbara Raber, the trigger woman, not Barbara Weaver, the victim. Barbara Raber's husband is a saint, and had no involvement in this sordid tragedy, he does not deserve to die!

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  2. I replied to your post once already and didn't see it come up. I would like to talk to you further and ask a couple questions about the victim. After all the press about the two in prison I think something needs to be said about her.

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    1. I agree more should be said about the victim.

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    2. I agree. I couldn't even find a picture of her. This all makes you want to know her more. From what little I know she sounded like a very sweet strong woman of faith, who loved her family and husband. This was so sad now 5 children are without their mother who really loved them so much. I see one comment above that is in poor taste and has nothing to do with the fact her husband was horrid and should have received more than 15 years.

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  3. I couldn't find any pictures of her

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    1. The Amish do not believe in the vanity (photography)

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  4. You won't find any pictures of her because she is Amish and they don't believe in getting their picture taken. I did not know her personally but my husband and his family did. I did however, know Eli through his sport shop. He surprisingly, seemed very friendly and normal. My husband also comes from the Amish so he was aware of and told me about all Eli's affairs and problems in the church. He said Barbara was a pretty little woman with a huge heart. He said she was nice to everyone and he couldn't understand why Eli seemed so miserable being married to her. It's a shame. I have often heard people ask "why didn't he just leave her if he wasn't happy". He didn't want to be with her but knew if he divorced her he would be shunned and his business would be over because the Amish would not do business with him anymore. He knew he would never be accepted by his church, community, or family ever again. I believe he figured he would get away with this and people would feel pity for him losing his wife and he would keep his same stature in the community. A lot of people that knew their situation suspected that he was involved right away. I feel most sorry for the children. I haven't heard anything lately but the last I heard 3 were living with one family member and 2 of them were living with another. So not only did they lose their mom and dad (and I'm sure they know why) but they also do not get to grow up in the same home and family as their siblings. Sad, so sad.

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  5. I have tried to find out something about her as well and nothing comes up. Can someone respond to me in private, I have something to ask but not in public.

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    1. You won't find any info on her because she is amish

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  6. The community would have shunned him for divorce as well, a separation would have been more acceptable but not really sure about that. Is it true she asked the church for help and if someone could take the children? Did she see this coming maybe?

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  7. Eli would've been better off being shunned the second time he went against his people. Shunning is bad and horrible. Yet they showed Amish Grace /forgiveness\ Mrs.Weaver did not deserve to die. This case was huge news here in Ohio I live not to far from where this murder happened. I'm still affect by it, I didn't know this family yet in high school my jr. +sr. year in high school I worked threw the restaurant management at the vocational school I fed two Amish sisters with C.P. These two girls were so sweet I really liked to help fed them. Their parents liked me I showed them how I got both girls to eat. Amish are good people and Eli should have been shunned long before the murder. Can anyone imagine that 7 year old child went threw finding his murdered mother? Eli Weaver is a coward and deserves no mercy for what he did and that Raber deserves to never breath free air again. Neither should he. To me the Amish should have kicked him out the second time he pulled his crap! He makes me sick. I feel for the children

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    1. I agree the children are the ones who lost the most.
      I'm not familiar with the people involved but the reason it caught my attention was because it happened close to where I have family. Anytime
      In the past when I had reason for doing business with the Amish they were always polite and
      Respectful. I realize that every culture has good and bad people who usually draw attention to the community. I guess it was just something I wasn't expecting.

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  8. Both women were named Barbara? How could the murderess slaughter a sleeping mother of five children and not get life without parole or a form of execution? What is the matter with the judge who sentences a tramp to just a few decades in jail? And why did the runaround triple timing eli, purposefully not capitalized, just get 15 years in jail? will be a bargain to his sentence to eternity in Hades.

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  9. I don't understand how she could have stood there knowing the situation still pull the trigger. The whole it was an accident claim is bogus. How could she even claim it was an accident? I wonder if he really considered burning the house down as an option claiming they were children they would go to heaven. I would truly like to believe that no father would even consider doing that. Thankfully that scenario didn't play out. All anyone can do is pray for the children.

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  10. The Amish leadership is lacking. Someone forget to tell Eli to read Proverbs Chapters 5, 6, and 7. He should have spent his time enticing wisdom to be his sister and constant companion rather than being caught in the devils trap (Ephesians Chapter 6)!!!

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  11. I know the people who are raising Barbara's children and they are a wonderful couple. The children are loved and growing up in their Amish home and community where serving God is what guides these people. The father should be pitied and prayed for not have people pointing fingers and finding fault. Eli was a misguided person who just happened to be Amish. He could have been Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran or any other God-fearing religion. This man and women who committed this awful crime will spend the rest of their lives her on earth in prison. They will have to answer to a higher calling than that here on earth. Keep the children in your prayers along with the wonderful, loving couple who took them into their home and treat them as if they were their own.

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  12. I pray for God the heal the hearts and minds of the children and may they grow up without hate in their hearts for the ones that selfishly chose their own desires. I commend and thank and pray for the families that took them in. I believe that despite what happened the children should be allowed to know their father and openly talk about what happened. Love and forgiveness should come freely.

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  13. I really sympathize with Barbara Weaver... I happened to watch Id deadly devotion where her murder case was shown... before I dont evn know abt amish way of living but I was very emotional after learning about her life story... eli is a monster full of himself & 15 yrs is nothing I dont understand how da jury could b so lenient..God sees da truth & may your soul rot in hell eli
    ... however im happy aftr reading da above comments dat those children are in safe hands now... God bless dem

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  14. Im so sorry. God bless the kids and their family every day

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  15. This is so sad,,, feel so bad for the kids

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  16. Barbara Raber's husband passed away earlier today of an apparent heart attack.

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  17. So sad, leaving 3 more children without parents! ��

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  18. Ok, this is the third murder I have read about that is supposedly the only Amish man convicted of murder. Somebody needs to do their research, and apparently, the Amish should stop naming people "Eli", since two of the three have that in common.

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  19. Have the kids ever responded to their fathers notes from the cell? I hope not

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  20. Yes, Eli Weaver has a relationship with his children. Regardless of what he has done, he is still their father, and they choose to have a relationship with him.

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  21. I saw him online before as Amish Stud. Wowza.

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  22. You are all so quick to point fingers at Eli, and yes he was involved but He did not shoot his wife. Barb Raber did. Eli isn't perfect and he is doing his time. He is paying his debt to society and now people still keep talking about this. Now with this book coming out. When will his children and his community be able to just live in peace? That is all they want, to just be able to let the past be the past.

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    1. "You are all so quick to point fingers at Eli". Yeah, little ole innocent Eli. Wanted his wife MURDERED so he had the woman he was having a sexual relationship with do it because he was a nice ole innocent Eli. Then nice ole innocent Eli pleading guilty and testified against his lover So she would 23 years and he would get only 15 years. Maybe you would like to hook-up with nice ole innocent Eli when he gets out. Lonnie

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  23. Eli is a piece of garbage...

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  24. I just finished the book about this case. Unfortunately, Eli is a very selfish man who truly needs Jesus Christ in his heart. He may have professed belief and was baptized into the church, but his sinful life surely did not prove his belief. Like any of us, when we give ourselves over to sinful, selfish, satan driven desires, we leave a path of destruction in our wake...always hurting the ones we love. Look at the tragedy of Josh Duggar. Truly sad.

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