Murder suspect held on $1 million bond
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Murder suspect Tamara K. “Tammy” Menke, who was able to elude capture for more than 15 hours after allegedly shooting two people, one of whom later died, at a residence on South Fulton Street, was finally captured Friday morning near her Ohio City area residence.
According to Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach, Menke, 47, was apprehended without incident at approximately 9:50 Friday morning after a night spent apparently hiding on or near her residence outside Ohio City.
She also appeared Friday morning on a charge of murder filed by Assistant County Prosecutor Martin Burchfield during an initial hearing held in Van Wert Municipal Court this afternoon, via a closed television system.
Judge Jill Leatherman ordered Menke held on a $1 million cash bond and scheduled a preliminary hearing to determine whether she should be bound over to the grand jury for Thursday, November 21, at 2 p.m. More charges could be forthcoming.
Menke is charged in connection with the death of Barbara Robinson, who was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Van Wert County Hospital. County Coroner Dr. Scott Jarvis later ordered her body sent to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, where personnel there will conduct an autopsy.
In addition to Robinson’s murder, Menke is also a suspect in the shooting of an as-yet unidentified man, thought to be a family member, at a residence at 223 S. Fulton St. in Van Wert. Calls were received by the VWPD shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday reporting shots fired.
After the shooting occurred, Menke reportedly fled the area and apparently returned to her residence near Ohio City.
Sheriff Riggenbach said Menke was able to initially evade a search at her Ohio City property made by officers from several law enforcement agencies, including county sheriff’s deputies, the Van Wert Police Department special response team and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, as well as a helicopter using heat-detection technology that was brought in by the Patrol to assist with the search. The search, which began shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, centered on Menke’s residence and several outbuildings, as well as nearby woods, fields and ditches. An EMS squad from the Van Wert Fire Department was also on the scene to assist with possible injuries.
After an unsuccessful search of the area Thursday night, the sheriff said he stationed deputies around the property through the night, and then returned Friday morning to conduct a more thorough search in daylight hours. Those searching Friday morning included Van Wert County deputies, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office deputies, and Allen County Sheriff’s Office K-9 units.
“I wanted to get these wooded areas searched in the daylight, where it was safer for the deputies involved,” Sheriff Riggenbach said.
After a short search, Menke was seen walking near an outbuilding and was taken into custody on the north side of her residence without incident shortly before 10 a.m. Friday. Sheriff Riggenbach said Menke was not armed when she was taken into custody.
The sheriff added that, from the condition of Menke’s clothes, it appeared as if she had been hiding outside, possibly in the woods or a ditch bank, but noted it was hard to tell exactly where she was hiding overnight.
Sheriff Riggenbach took time to commend the cooperation received from area law enforcement and first responder personnel in connection with the search.
“When something like this happens, it’s really important how well all of our local agencies, and agencies from other jurisdictions, are so willing to come and work together and help each other to bring something like this to a resolution in a way that everybody stays safe,” the sheriff said. “The cooperation is really nice to have.”
Following her arrest, Menke was questioned by detectives from the Van Wert Police Department and will be incarcerated in the Van Wert County Correctional Facility. It’s not clear at this point when she will be brought into Van Wert Municipal Court for her initial court appearance, but that could happen yet this afternoon.