LAKEMOOR – What began as a Lakemoor police officer checking on a man asleep in his car July 26 took a turn when police shot and killed the man, who is believed to have been on the run from an out-of-state homicide investigation.
An autopsy confirmed a man that Lakemoor police shot and killed July 26 was the same person wanted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man whose body was dumped in a pond last week in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.
Early autopsy findings showed that 36-year-old Kenneth E. Martell of Meadville, Penn., died from injuries suffered from a gunshot wound to the face, Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said in a statement July 26. Results from toxicology testing have not yet been completed.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force investigators communicated throughout the day with authorities from Pennsylvania, task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said in the release.
The agencies were able to confirm Martell was the same man Pennsylvania authorities had been searching for in connection with a homicide that occurred July 24.
The July 26 situation unraveled about 5 a.m., when a Lakemoor police officer approached a vehicle backed into a gravel access area at Four Seasons Boulevard and Sullivan Lake Road, Covelli said. The apparent driver, Martell, initially was asleep in his vehicle, and it’s unclear how long the car had been parked, Covelli said.
“This is an area that vehicles don’t normally park,” Covelli said.
The vehicle, a silver KIA SUV, had a Pennsylvania license plate, police said.
During the female officer’s interaction with Martell, he pointed a handgun at the officer, which she tried to confiscate, Covelli said.
“It appears there was some sort of struggle over that firearm,” Covelli said.
A backup officer who previously had been called to assist eventually arrived, and as he approached the SUV, Martell pulled out a second handgun, police said.
“At least one of the two Lakemoor officers on the scene engaged in fire at the man,” Covelli said.
Both handguns later were recovered by police. Martell was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. He died in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
It is unclear how many shots were fired, and by whom. Neither Lakemoor officers were injured, Covelli said.
The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force will conduct an independent investigation of the shooting, Covelli said.
The two Lakemoor Police Department officers involved, whose identities have not been released, await separate interviews with investigators Officers will turn over their reports to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether the shooting was justified.
The Crawford County District Attorney’s Office said it was aware of the situation, and Pennsylvania State Police were working with Lakemoor to investigate.
A warrant for Martell’s arrest in connection with the slaying of Theodore Garver was issued July 24 out of Pennsylvania, Crawford County District Attorney Francis J. Schultz said.
A Pennsylvania state trooper was notified of the homicide about 8:10 a.m. July 24, according to a police affidavit.
Earlier that day, a witness heard a vehicle pull into his driveway, and a short time later, the witness heard a knock at the door. On the other side of the door were Martell and his mother, who police said Martell threatened with a gun.
Martell allegedly told the witness he “needed his help,” and they drove to a white house in the Conneautville, Penn., area in the northwest corner of the state, according to a police affidavit.
When they arrived at the home, the witness reported seeing a human body “covered in blood” on the upstairs bathroom floor, the affidavit stated. Martell is believed to have asked the witness to help dispose of the body, which the 36-year-old placed in the back seat of a blue vehicle. He then drove to a pond to dump the body, according to the affidavit.
When police arrived at Garver’s home for a welfare check, they discovered a rocking chair, duct tape and blood, but Garver was nowhere to be found, the affidavit said.
Later that night, a body believed to be Garver’s was found in a pond not far from his home.