Man accused of raping child found dead next to victim’s relative in Ashtabula County
ASHTABULA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - An Orwell man accused of raping a 9-year-old, along with a family member of the alleged victim, were found dead Sunday morning.
Ohio State Highway Patrol found the bodies of 34-year-old Wesley Thomas and his girlfriend, 31-year-old Samantha Faidley, at the New Lyme Wildlife Area in Ashtabula County at around 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 11.
Police previously said their bodies were found with gunshot wounds on the ground near a minivan and a firearm was located at the scene.
Thomas was indicted on four counts of felony rape on June 9. He pled not guilty and was released on a $75,000 bond on Aug. 19.
Officials confirmed Faidley was related to the 9-year-old Thomas was accused of raping ‘at least four times.’
“It is clear that this was a troubled family,” Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole said. “They were romantically involved and cohabitating up until the new bond determination came out.”
19 Investigates wanted to know why someone accused of committing such a serious crime against a child would be allowed out on bond.
“The issue of child sexual assault is always very complicated especially with child victims because the child was removed from the home, and he had no access to the child because he had no access to the child, he was considered according to all of our evidence-based practices as being a low risk to re-offend in the area of sexual assault and he has no prior offenses that we have in our system,” O’Toole said of the decision.
19 Investigates discovered Thomas pled guilty to three counts of endangering the welfare of a child in Pennsylvania in 2013. The charges were listed as first-degree misdemeanors, according to the dockets.
O’Toole said the decision to let a suspect like Thomas out on bond is up to the court – but her office, the defense, and probation all weigh in on the decision.
Thomas was being tracked with a GPS ankle monitor and was not allowed to contact Faidley or the 9-year-old child.
O’Toole did not specify if this case spoke to a bigger issue within the criminal justice system.
“I do not necessarily know that this would’ve been prevented,” O’Toole said. “Again, the question is what does the evidence tell us? We need to be honest, and we need to disclose what happened and we need to figure out if there was a failure somewhere, a system failure, or something else that cause these types of things to occur and that’s how we improve as a community.”
O’Toole said the rape case against Thomas will be dismissed as soon as it is officially verified that he’s dead.
Sunday’s deaths are still being investigated, but troopers previously said it was believed to be a murder-suicide.
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