NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Police said a 37-year-old man who is accused of murdering Harold Litten turned himself in to the Lake Erie Correctional Facility for an unrelated charge three days after he killed Litten and tried to cover up the homicide.
John Rowan, of Cleveland, will be brought back to Lorain County after he is released Oct. 15 from the facility in Conneaut.
Litten, 60, was reported missing April 18 by family members and his employer when he failed to show up for work, said North Ridgeville police Lt. Greg Petek.
Detectives found Litten’s body in an outbuilding at his home, 5490 Jaycox Road, on May 26 during a pre-arranged search of the property after several searches of the home turned up nothing, Petek said.
Police at the time said Litten’s body had been there for several weeks, and Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans ruled the death a homicide by blunt force trauma.
“Mr. Rowan went to great lengths to try to cover up the homicide,” Petek said.
Petek said investigators were able to use physical evidence at the scene. DNA from fingerprints and evidence on Litten’s phone put Rowan at Litten’s house on the day of the murder, he said.
“We believe Mr. Rowan acted alone and robbery was the motive,” Petek said.
Petek said Rowan did take things from the home, but he would not say what.
According to records from Lake Erie Correctional, Rowan was incarcerated for a robbery charge out of Cuyahoga County.
Rowan was first booked into the facility Jan. 12, 2012, and served three years before being released on parole Aug. 30, 2015. Petek said Rowan turned himself in on an outstanding warrant for a parole violation April 20, three days after police said the homicide occurred.
“We just thought it was very suspicious that within couple days of a homicide occurring — he had absconded from his probation for months — and all of the sudden decided to turn himself in. To us it was kind of suspicious,” Petek said.
Petek said Rowan had done some odd jobs and mechanical work for Litten before killing him.
“Whether or not they got connected from an ad or through mutual friends or how, we don’t know the exact connection as to how they ended up doing work together,” Petek said.
Though detectives had searched Litten’s Jaycox Road home after he went missing, Petek said the outbuilding where Litten was found had been locked. North Ridgeville police contacted county and state agencies to go back and do a search of the outbuilding after Litten’s van was found in Cleveland.
“At that point we determined we were going to start back at the beginning and broaden our search again,” Litten said. “There was nothing readily apparent and evident that a crime had occurred at the house.”
Petek said the arrest has brought some relief to Litten’s family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Petek said. “We did speak to them, and they were relieved that an arrest was made ... I’m sure a community like North Ridgeville, where this is not a common occurrence, it’s a relief to know we don’t have someone out there committing murders.”
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