Salem man arraigned on evidence tampering charge linked to death

LISBON – Christopher Lee Miller, a man believed by authorities to have been involved in the bludgeoning death of Matthew Bailey last year, was arraigned in Columbiana County Municipal Court Thursday on a tampering with evidence charge.

Miller, 36, U.S. Route 62, Salem, is accused of cleaning up blood evidence belonging to Bailey from his girlfriend’s car after Bailey’s body was found last October. He appeared in court via video from the county jail.

According to court documents, Miller was the driver of a 2001 Ford Escape, which was eventually taken into evidence by investigating county sheriff’s detectives. DNA evidence reportedly linked what blood remained on the vehicle to Bailey.

Additionally, after repeated interviews, Miller reportedly admitted to cleaning up the blood both inside and on the outside of the vehicle in an attempt to avoid the blood being detected.

In court Thursday, county Prosecutor Robert Herron said Miller also had blood found on his clothing and was someone who was seen with Bailey prior to his death.

When asked by Judge Mark Frost about bond, Herron said he has concerns about Miller running and has already informed Miller he should be expecting charges in connection to the homicide of Bailey.

Herron also listed a long list of previous convictions of Miller including felony charges of theft, breaking and entering, non-support of dependents, forgery and identity fraud. Additionally, Herron said he has convictions of domestic violence, resisting arrest, obstructing official business, multiple OVI convictions and failure to appear.

According to Herron, Miller attempted to run and hide when he was picked up by police a few months earlier.

“If I was running from any of this, I would have run from the get-go,” Miller said prior to bond being set.

Judge Mark Frost set bond for Miller at $2 million, which left Miller mumbling under his breath in disapproval.

Robert Bricker was appointed Miller’s attorney for the preliminary hearing, which was set for Feb. 13. A conviction on the third-degree felony tampering with evidence charge carries a possible sentence of between nine and 36 months in prison.

Miller was already in the county jail before the charges were filed. On Nov. 4, he appeared in county Municipal Court and was sentenced to 90 days in jail on charges of obstructing official business, driving under FRA suspension and failure to yield the right of way. He was also found in violation of his probation on previous falsification and driving under OVI suspension convictions and was sentenced to 102 days in jail.

Bailey was found dead on a service road off Hartley Road in late October by people riding four-wheelers. Bailey was also the man Leah Klusch, the widow of 2011 murder victim Gerald Klusch, believed responsible for her husband’s death. In late September 2013, Leah Klusch had filed a civil lawsuit in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court claiming Bailey shot and killed her husband.

Gerald G. Klusch, 71, who owned farmland and lived on U.S. Route 30 just west of Lisbon, disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011. Bailey was identified at the time of Klusch’s disappearance as the last person believed to have seen Klusch alive. Bailey was a farmhand who had worked for Klusch.