Portage County man pleads no contest to aggravated murder, kidnapping


John Fox

Madeleine Winer

A Franklin township man pled no contest to aggravated murder among other charges after admitting he killed an Alliance man he was soliciting for sexual favors through Craigslist.

John Fox, 34, pled no contest to three counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence on Monday in Judge Laurie Pittman’s courtroom at the Portage County Court of Common Pleas in Ravenna. Fox could face up to more than $75,000 in fines and life in prison without parole. Pittman will deliver Fox’s sentence Nov. 3.

John Fox conviction from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

Fox told police he choked 22-year-old Justin Earley to death and stored his body in a closet on Dec. 30 in his Storer Suites apartment at 1783 E. Main St. in Kent, according to the Portage County Prosecutor’s statement of facts for the case. An Alliance Police missing persons investigation led Portage County Sheriff’s Department to Fox’s apartment on Jan. 17, where they seized Earley’s body and his 1992 Buick Riviera parked in the Campus Pointe Apartments parking lot.

Alliance Police searched Earley’s phone records to find Fox’s number as the last number he called in his phone log, Portage County prosecutors said. Through an internet search, police connected the phone number with Craigslist ads Fox posted: one requesting male companionship for money and the other for Earley’s Buick Riviera he drove to Fox’s house the day he went missing.

Police contacted Fox’s boss at Seal Master Corporation, a rubber parts manufacturer in Kent, who provided police with his timecard that showed Fox’s absences on Dec. 30 and 31.

Court Documents

Click here to view the official court documents from Fox’s trial.

Police secured a search warrant for Fox’s apartment and phone records and Earley’s car. Shortly after, Fox called Portage County Sheriff’s Department and was arrested on Hayes Road in Ravenna. Portage County Sheriff’s Department said Fox complied with the arrest and was taken to Portage County jail.

Interviews with Fox revealed that he made contact with Earley in November through a backpage.com advertisement. He said Earley came to his apartment three times before he went missing Dec. 30. Fox told police he “kind of singled him (Earley) out.”

“I guess, in a way, I purposely, well unfortunate for him, I have a lot of anger issues in the past year,” Fox told police.

Fox confirmed he planned to kill Earley that day. He said he put Earley in a headlock and choked him to death. He admitted he did not feel remorse after killing him.

“It didn’t bother you?” asked Lt. Johnson of the Portage County Sheriff’s Department.

“And that kind of worried me because it should, it should,” Fox replied.

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].