2 plead not guilty to robbing Ohio real estate agent; suspect sought in another agent’s death

By Meghan Barr, AP
Friday, September 24, 2010

2 plead not guilty in robbery of Ohio realty agent

CLEVELAND — A Florida man was being sought Thursday in the fatal shooting of an Ohio real estate agent whose body was found in a vacant home he was trying to sell, and police looked for clues in the strangling of another agent and robbery of a third.

Federal marshals and the State Highway Patrol were searching for Robert Grigelaitis, 59, who is suspected in the death of Andrew VonStein, a prominent real estate agent whose body was found Tuesday with a single gunshot wound. VonStein’s wallet and cell phone were missing, medical records show.

Grigelaitis also has had an address in Ravenna in northeast Ohio, near the house where VonStein’s body was found.

Portage County Sheriff David Doak would not say whether VonStein and Grigelaitis knew each other. It was not immediately clear whether Grigelaitis, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., had an attorney.

The body of real estate agent Vivian Martin, 67, was found Monday in a vacant home about 40 miles away in Youngstown. Another agent was robbed last week while showing a vacant apartment building in nearby Boardman Township. Police are investigating whether those cases are related.

The robbery victim was told she’d be killed if she called police, said Boardman police Capt. Donald Hawkins. Her name was not released.

Paul Brooks, 27, and Robert Brooks, 25, pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated robbery and are being held without bond until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday. They do not have attorneys.

The violence has prompted frightened agents in northeast Ohio to cancel open houses and avoid meeting prospective buyers alone. In Youngstown, some agents canceled open houses in Martin’s honor.

Associated Press Writer Thomas J. Sheeran contributed to this report.

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