By Whitney Vickers
YELLOW SPRINGS — A Yellow Springs man found shot multiple times is believed to be the victim of a targeted crime, resulting in a double homicide investigation.
William Brown, 44, of Yellow Springs was murdered inside a duplex-style home Sunday, Jan. 15, and Sherri Mendenhall, 63, also of Yellow Springs, was shot once and found in the driveway at the same residence, located on the 4400 block of East Enon Road just outside of Yellow Springs.
“We have no idea who [the suspects] are at this time, but we know the male victim … was shot multiple times, which leads us to believe the crime scene and person responsible for this was angry and we believe targeted, specifically, this individual,” Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said, adding that at least two-to-three dozen witness interviews have been conducted at this point.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, under the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, is assisting in the investigation, lending its cyber crimes unit to extract information from the victims’ electronic devices. Investigators are still trying to determine the relationship the victims had with each other and how Mendenhall became involved in the tragic crime. Fischer would not say which room Brown was found inside or whether or not anything was missing from the home. He did acknowledge the possibility of having multiple suspects, but would not elaborate.
“There’s concerns about a murderer running around — should [locals] take extra precautions?” Fischer said. “I believe, and investigators believe, that this was not random — that this was specific to this residence.”
A jogger discovered Mendenhall’s body laying in the driveway Sunday, and responded by using a phone in a nearby home to call the Yellow Springs Police Department. When officers arrived to the scene, she had been dead for approximately a few hours, according to Fischer. Six BCI investigators also arrived on scene the night of the crime, in addition to DeWine.
“It’s a very tragic thing,” DeWine said Monday. “Two people were murdered in their home. It’s very shocking and tragic. The sheriff’s office is focused on who did it, and we (BCI) are here to assist.”
The family of the victims have asked that individuals allow them time and space to grieve, keeping away from the home where the tragedy took place.
A longtime friend of Brown’s, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the nature of the circumstances, described him as thoughtful, kind and generous. They shared two passions — art, and preserving open, natural spaces, which is what gave birth to their friendship.
Brown’s friend remembers visiting his home on East Enon Road, going through archived photos taken by his great-grandfather, Axel Bahnsen, and walking around the property while listening to the dreams he had for the space in the future.
“I felt his vision and appreciated it,” the friend said. “It’s sad that it tragically ended so soon. He had more ideas and things he wanted to do out there.”
Brown was dedicated to preserving Bahnsen’s legacy, but was not stingy about giving his great-grandfather’s photos away to charities of his choice, according to his friend, adding that he would thoughtfully choose which specific photos he would donate.
Mendenhall was retired, investigators said, and graduated from Wayne High School, according to a Facebook page.
Fischer said it is most important that investigators solve the crime, which means they must keep the information “close to their chest.”
Another press conference is expected early next week. Fischer said this event is the fifth homicide he has seen within his 14 years at the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office has established a tip line specific to this investigation, 937-562-4815, and is asking anyone with information to get in touch.
“We’ve had a tremendous response to the tip line and we ask for additional help,” Fischer said. “Anything that comes up, however trivial to somebody, may be very important for us to solve this case.”