By Casey Gwinn, President – Alliance for HOPE International
Kirkersville, Ohio Police Chief Steven “Eric” DiSario, 37, was buried last Saturday after being killed by a rage-filled man with a long history of domestic violence and strangulation assault against intimate partners. Thomas Hartless took two people hostage outside a nursing home where his ex-girlfriend worked. Chief DiSario responded to a call of a man with a gun and was shot and killed by Hartless. Hartless then entered the nursing home and killed Marlina Medrano, 46, his ex-girlfriend and a nurse’s aide named Cindy Krantz, 48.
The killer had a long history of domestic violence and strangulation assault. “It is such a preventable tragedy”, said Alliance President Casey Gwinn. “A rage-filled man raised his hand and said he was a killer many years ago when he strangled his intimate partners and nobody paid attention in Ohio. Men who strangle women are the cop killers and domestic violence murderers of America. When will the Ohio Legislature step up and pass a felony strangulation statute?”
“If a man strangles a woman one time, she is 750% more likely to later be killed by him,” said Alliance CEO Gael Strack. “And we believe the majority of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty are killed by men with a history of strangulation assault against intimate partners.”
Ohio is one of only five states that does not recognize non-fatal strangulation as a separate felony offense. The other states still failing to include strangulation in a statute are New Jersey, South Carolina, Kentucky, and New Mexico.
Alliance for HOPE International’s Training institute on Strangulation Prevention recently trained in Columbus, Ohio and urged leaders to pass a felony strangulation statute.
We should all remember the families of the victims in our thoughts and prayers. Senator Kevin BaconOhio Domestic Violence NetworkOhio Coalition Against Gun ViolenceNO MORE CampaignKirkersville, OhioJohn KasichInternational Association of Chiefs of PoliceNational Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Orginal story from The Columbas Dispatch
For at least a decade, Thomas Hartless told the women in his life that he would work on his anger, take his medications and change his abusive ways.
With fits of jealous rage that included punches, kicks and strangleholds, he proved himself to be a repeated and unrepentant liar.
Friday morning, in a burst of homicidal violence that far surpassed his prior misdeeds, he proved that one last time.
Investigators said Hartless, 43, briefly took two passers-by hostage in the woods behind the Pine Kirk Care Center at 205 E. Main St. in Kirkersville before killing the village police chief, Steven Eric DiSario, as he responded to a report of a man with a gun. After shooting DiSario, Hartless stormed into the nursing home and shot Marlina Medrano, 46, an ex-girlfriend who worked there as a nurse, and Cindy Krantz, 48, a nurse aide. Hartless also was found dead inside the home.
Medrano had given Hartless chance after chance, but she reported in court documents as recently as a week ago that she feared for her life.
“I no longer feel that my support can help Tom with his issues,” she wrote in a May 5 petition for a civil protection order. “I am afraid to be alone with him, that he will hurt me for good.”
In another report from December, she told police that Hartless “doesn’t like police, has a handgun and threatens that if she ever filed charges on him he would make her pay for it.”
“Thomas has even drove her out SR 79 north past the Wooden Nickel, beat her and then showed her a hole that he dug, advising her that he would put her in it if she did not stay with him,” an officer wrote. “She stated that he is always threatening that he will hunt her down and kill her if they are not together.”
While the violence visited upon the village of about 500 people shocked central Ohio and grabbed national headlines, it was no secret among law enforcement officers in Licking and Knox counties that Hartless, who stood 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 215 pounds, was abusive and controlling in his relationships with women.
“I know the name,” Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville said.
Court records and civil protection orders obtained against Hartless through the years bear all the hallmarks of domestic violence.
Another former girlfriend, who was not involved in Friday’s violence, reported in 2009 that Hartless had abducted her and held her captive for several hours after she tried leaving him.
In her petition for a protection order after that incident, the woman said she had begun dating Hartless in 2008. He became abusive after moving in. She obtained a protection order back then but dropped it after he promised to seek counseling and take his meds.
“Everything was going good at first,” she wrote. She broke it off again in July 2009 but agreed to talk to him a few weeks later. They met at a Newark club, where Hartless became incensed when another man said hello to her.
“He said, ‘Let’s go somewhere else, because if I go back in there it’s not going to be good,’” she wrote. He said he would drive them to another bar. Instead, he drove out into the country.
“He ended up taking me to a wooded area and beating me, choking me, and kicking me,” she wrote. “He duct-taped my hands and feet together and then drove to another secluded area where he kept me till about 9 a.m.
“I told him if he would take me back to my car that I wouldn’t tell anyone. I told him that everything would be OK. I told him anything to bring me back.”
The woman reported the crime, and Hartless was charged with kidnapping, abduction, aggravated menacing and domestic violence. In a plea deal, the most serious charge — kidnapping, which could have sent him to prison for up to eight years — and domestic violence were dropped. In exchange, Hartless pleaded guilty to abduction and aggravated menacing.
He was sentenced on March 20, 2010, in that case and for a second plea in a separate assault case. Details of that case were not available Friday.
The concurrent sentences he was given meant only two years in prison for Hartless, but he ultimately served 8 months before now-retired Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster granted his release and placed him on probation. Hartless successfully completed the probation and was discharged from it in February 2014.
Hartless had an equally violent history with Medrano, who obtained three civil protection orders against him just this year. She applied for the last on May 5, and court officials said it was still active Friday. He also was still on probation for a prior domestic violence case involving her, records show.
In various court records, Medrano detailed repeated abuse at his hands.
One assault unfolded on March 6 on Oakland Avenue in Utica, where Hartless often stayed with his parents.
In a petition she filed the next day, Medrano said Hartless began beating and kicking her before she escaped to neighbor Connie Long’s house. As she ran there, Hartless tried to run her down with her car.