SALEM - A former Salem woman will be remembered today and tomorrow as friends and family mourn her death, which occurred Wednesday during a burglary at her home in Madison Township in Lake County.
Eleanor M. Robertson, 77, and her late husband, Frank, had moved from the area many years ago, but she still belonged to the First Presbyterian Church in Salem and both of their children, Scot and Penny, were Salem High School graduates.
"Obviously, everyone at the church is shocked and saddened by this," First Presbyterian Church Pastor Rev. Dr. Meta Cramer said.
The Lake County Coroner's Office determined Robertson's manner of death as homicide, Madison Township Police Chief Leonard Del Calzo said Saturday, but he declined to go into detail at this time about how she died. A weapon was used, but he said the weapon was not a firearm.
A mother and son remain in the Lake County Jail on $1 million bonds, each charged with murder and aggravated burglary in connection with Eleanor M. Robertson's death and the burglary at her home. They were scheduled to face preliminary hearings Monday, but Del Calzo said he was told the hearings have been postponed.
Danna Weimer, 52, of Austinburg, and Zachary Weimer, 22, whose last known address was Geneva, both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Del Calzo called Robertson's death heartbreaking. His department first received a call at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday after Robertson's neighbors on Canterbury Drive saw some suspicious activity and called her family members. Family members found the house ransacked and couldn't find her or her red 1995 Plymouth Voyager van, which is still missing.
Police weren't sure if she was home when the place was ransacked or what the situation was at that time. They issued an alert for her vehicle and a silver alert for her.
In the meantime, Euclid Police, in an area about 20 miles west of Madison Township, conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by the Weimers and noticed a lot of property in the car. They were in an area where there had been some problems.
Once Euclid Police heard about the alerts, they noted some property with Robertson's name on it in the vehicle, Del Calzo said. As for Robertson's vehicle, they're still trying to find it. He said they have video footage of Zachary Weimer driving the vehicle early Wednesday, but they still haven't found it.
Robertson was found dead in the bedroom of her home after officers and crime lab personnel conducted a more thorough search. She had been covered up with a mattress and some bedding.
Del Calzo said Danna Weimer at one time lived in the neighborhood. When
asked about motive, he pointed to the burglary. He explained that there's been a significant increase in the state of Ohio in heroin abuse and they've seen an increase in residential burglaries and an increase in cash for gold businesses.
Since Wednesday, he said he's learned the victim was very involved in the community, especially with the V.F.W. Post 6846 Auxiliary in Geneva.
He said he heard "from all the neighbors what a sweet woman she was. It's such a tragedy. You can't make sense of a crime as senseless as this."
Cramer said she was "a very cheerful, sweet lady."
She was told that she worked at the former McCulloch's store in downtown Salem and at the Goodwill store and was active in the church and with Boy Scout Troop 3 at the church. Cramer said her kids said she was famous for her potato salad. She was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Geneva.
Calling hours will be held from 3 to 7 tonight at Stark Memorial Funeral Home, with funeral services planned for 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home with Cramer officiating.
Her obituary appeared in the Salem News on Saturday.