Man pleads guilty in Ohio real estate killing

AP News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2010 3:47 PM
Man pleads guilty in Ohio real estate killing

A Florida man pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated murder in the killing of an Ohio real estate agent who was found dead in a vacant home that he was trying to sell.

Robert Grigelaitis, 59, was immediately sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. He was indicted earlier this week in the death of Andrew VonStein, a prominent local agent whose body was discovered Sept. 21 in a vacant home in a pleasant lakefront neighborhood near Kent State University, where he had sold homes for decades.

VonStein was one of two agents killed in northeast Ohio in the span of two days last month, prompting frightened agents to cancel open houses and avoid meeting prospective buyers alone.

Grigelaitis, of Fort Lauderdale, fled the state after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in the wake of VonStein's death. He was apprehended Sept. 28 in Turkey, N.C., after a weeklong manhunt.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Nobody answered the phone at VonStein's home in Ravenna, where his wife still resides. His two grown daughters live in Columbus.

The day before VonStein was killed, real estate agent Vivian Martin, 67, was found dead on the kitchen floor in a burning home in Youngstown. She had been strangled and the home set ablaze. Family members told police that Martin had set up an appointment to show the home that afternoon.

Two men were charged with killing her: Robert Brooks, 25, of Youngstown, and Grant Cooper, 21, of Hubbard. They each independently confessed to "the crimes against" Martin, police said.

Investigators don't think the two killings were connected.