NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The death of Harold Litten Jr. has been ruled a homicide, North Ridgeville police and Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said Tuesday.
The 60-year-old Litten’s body was found Friday in an outbuilding at 5490 Jaycox Road during what North Ridgeville police Capt. Marti Garrow described as a “prearranged search” of the property.
“We’re looking at everything and considering all information, but we don’t have any other information that we’re going to release,” Garrow said. “We really don’t have a whole lot to go on right now.”
Litten was reported missing to police April 20, but Evans said he couldn’t comment on how Litten was killed and exactly when he died until he gets pathology reports back.
“We know he’s been dead for quite a while,” Evans said.
Alex Litten, Harold Litten’s son, said his father owned A Chim Chimney Masonry, a chimney repair and masonry company in North Olmsted.
“My father was very kind, very generous and the most hard-working man I’ve ever known in my lifetime,” the younger Litten said. “His customers from the company he owned all say he was polite, detailed and very prideful of his work for them.”
The elder Litten had lived in North Olmsted previously, according to court records that showed he was engaged in a lengthy fight to clear himself of marijuana trafficking and possession charge around a decade ago.
In that case, a confidential informant working with North Olmsted police and the Westshore Enforcement Bureau allegedly purchased $50 worth of marijuana from Harold Litten in 2005, according to court documents.
That was enough, police and prosecutors argued, for them to use a search warrant to confiscate weapons and drugs from Harold Litten’s North Olmsted home, according to the court documents. They also used information from that search to go to his father’s Cleveland home, where they found additional weapons and a marijuana growing operation.
Litten was tried and convicted, but the 8th District Court of Appeals later overturned the conviction because of how the judge on the case handled Litten’s desire to represent himself in court and over issues with the searches conducted by police in the case.
The appeals court decision said that at one point the Cuyahoga County judge ordered Litten to undergo a competency review because of his behavior, including his insistence that the Uniform Commercial Code and admiralty law applied to his criminal case. Litten was determined to be competent.
Litten also at one point suggested the day of his trial that he wasn’t the person named in the indictment because his name was spelled in all capital letters in the court paperwork. That, he insisted, “is not my Christian appellation name which is in capital and small letters,” the appeals court decision said.
After the case was sent back to Cuyahoga County, the judge threw out most of the evidence and the case ultimately was dismissed.
In a lawsuit filed against the confidential informant in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, Litten wrote that he was jailed for around 17 months while the criminal case was pending.
The lawsuit accused the informant of using “deceptive means” to enter Litten’s life and caused his family to be “terrorized.” He also blamed the confidential informant and the resulting prosecution for the breakup of his marriage and the loss of business to his company, according to the lawsuit, which was dismissed.
Litten had prior convictions for felonious assault from 1980 and drug abuse from a 1994 case, according to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records.
Alex Litten said the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Litten’s funeral services.
“Thank you for the support and prayers. Hopefully, this can keep his soul alive, and we will be able to shed light on the case and bring his murderer to justice,” Alex Litten said.
Visitation for Litten will be noon to 2 p.m. Friday at Sunset Memorial Park, Columbia Road in North Olmsted, with interment to follow.
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