At secluded apartment complex, neighbors startled by alleged murder


Brandon Davis, senior biochemistry major, lived just a few doors down from the accused murderer, John R. Fox, who is set to appear in court July 25, 2014. If convicted, Fox could face the death penalty.

Jacob Byk

Storer Suites, tucked just inside Franklin Township’s border with Kent, advertises the apartment complex with bolded words: “SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY.”

But recently, the residents of Storer Suites realized their quiet and isolated community isn’t immune to the realities of violence, abduction and even murder.

John Fox, a 34-year-old registered sex offender in Franklin Township, hid the dead body of Justin Earley, a 22-year-old from Alliance, in his bedroom closet for a little over 17 days before police raided it and found Earley’s remains.

Fox was arrested and is waiting in Portage County Jail for his pre-trial set for July 25. Until then, the rest of the residents of the complex took the cold weekend to reflect on the discovery and conviction of their neighbor.

Brandon Davis, senior chemistry major at Kent State, lived just a few doors down from the apartment.

“Just to have it happen to me, thirty feet away from me, is pretty intense,” he said.

The few days after Portage County Police raided Fox’s apartment, the lights were left on and the blinds up, facing the bedroom where the body was found. Davis recalls walking by the apartment and seeing the bedroom.

Davis selected the discreet complex because of its particularly unnoticeable nature. Nestled between Campus Pointe apartments and Acme Fresh Market on East Main Street, it’s an easy place to miss. Still, Davis reflects.

“You never know who you’re living next to,” he said. “You can’t avoid the evil of human beings anymore.”

Ian Weber, a 31-year-old resident of Storer Suites who has lived in the complex for six years, only knows a few of his neighbors — a fact he attributes to the nature of the complex. He said everyone generally keeps to themselves. Still, he was upset to hear the news.

“It’s a little screwed up that even in tiny little neighborhoods like this, that something like that can go completely unnoticed,” Weber said.  “And I’m as guilty as the guys living right next door to the guy.”

Fox’s only neighbor is 51-year-old Albert Goetz, who has trouble walking, so he is there “24/7.”

Goetz, a retired chef, never sees cops at Storer Suites. When he saw his neighbor’s apartment surrounded, he was quite surprised. The only thing that disturbed Goetz was that he did not have the slightest indication of something amiss. For a man that gets all his food delivered to his apartment by friends and rarely even steps outside to have a cigarette, the paper thin walls gave no indication of the secrets they contained.

“If this guy is a wacko crazy murderer, how did I not see that?” Goetz said.