ELYRIA — Former Lorain County Jail guard William Dembie Jr. has been indicted for the Aug. 11 stabbing death of his wife, Holly Dembie, at the couple’s Grafton Township home.
William Dembie, 42, is charged with aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and domestic violence for the killing, which deputies have said took place in the midst of an argument between the couple.
Dembie’s attorney, J. Anthony Rich, said he wasn’t surprised by the charges against his client, but he doesn’t believe they’re appropriate. He said Dembie, who resigned days after his wife’s death, should have been charged with voluntary manslaughter because the killing took place in a fit of sudden passion or rage.
“This is a guy who snapped,” Rich said.
Dembie, a veteran corrections officer, called the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 11 to report that he had beheaded his wife. He told dispatcher Joy Sanchez that “I just couldn’t deal with her (expletive) anymore.”
When deputies arrived they found Holly Dembie’s nude body in the backyard of the couple’s Cowley Road property. William Dembie, who was clothed and covered in blood, surrendered after deputies called out for him after they arrived.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Donald Barker has said that William Dembie told him that he and his wife got in an argument that escalated into violence. Barker has said that William Dembie told him he ultimately got a combat knife from his room and ended up stabbing Holly Dembie, who tried to escape out of a second-floor bathroom window.
Barker has said Holly Dembie, 33, plunged to the ground from the bathroom and William Dembie went downstairs and outside and stabbed her again.
The couple’s 4-year-old son was at a drive-in movie with Holly Dembie’s mother, Cheryl Foldes, and other relatives when Holly Dembie was killed.
Foldes and other relatives have said that William Dembie, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was physically and emotionally abusive toward his wife, and used techniques for controlling combative prisoners against her.
But Rich has said that efforts to paint his client as a monster are false. He said Holly Dembie, who worked with special needs children at Midview Schools, was actually abusing William Dembie. Foldes and other family members have vehemently denied those allegations.
Rich said Thursday that he continues to have concerns that Holly Dembie’s family may have destroyed evidence in the couple’s home that may have proven that she was the abuser when they cleaned the house in the week after Holly Dembie’s death.
Foldes has said that while some of William Dembie’s property was burned, most of it was paperwork or old books that no one would have wanted. The Dembie family, however, has maintained that many of William Dembie’s prized personal possessions were destroyed.
Rich said Holly Dembie’s family should never have been inside the house in the first place because William Dembie has given his power of attorney to his mother, who has since had the locks changed on the house.
Barker said that for now the investigation into whether any laws were broken when the house was cleaned and property was burned is on hold. He said it’s his understanding that the Dembie family doesn’t want the matter pursued any further.
Dembie, who is scheduled to be arraigned next week, is being held in the Lorain County Jail is lieu of a $5 million bond.
He was originally being held in the Erie County Jail, but was brought back to Lorain County on Sept. 2 and is now being held in isolation.
Lorain County Sheriff’s Lt. Jack Hammond, the jail administrator, said he always planned to eventually bring Dembie back to be held locally while he was awaiting trial, but wanted to give his employees time to adjust to the idea of what had happened.
Since his return, Hammond said, Dembie has been a “model prisoner.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.