By MARGIE NETZEL - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eleanor Robertson’s murderer made off with thousands of dollars in jewelry and collectibles after stabbing the 77-year-old woman 94 times with a screwdriver, Scott Robertson said.
But the killer also made a cheese-and-crackers snack before leaving the house on Canterbury Drive and lit dozens of candles throughout the home, leaving them burning.
Eleanor Robertson’s son, Scott Robertson, said he noticed the cracker crumbs on the kitchen countertop when he and his sister, Penny Borton, entered the home after their mother was found dead on June 13.
“We were looking to see if we could note any items that were missing from the house,” Robertson said in his testimony in Lake County Common Pleas Court on Thursday morning. “So we each compiled a list.”
The lists included their mother’s china collection, her extensive baseball card collection, five boxes of jewelry, paintings and needlepoint art.
But the murderer was obviously hungry, Robertson said.
“My mother kept a basket full of (Nutri-Grain brand cereal bars) on her kitchen table,” he said. “There was always about three boxes of the bars in the basket, of all different flavors. When we went through the house, the basket was totally empty.”
Robertson said he had been in his mother’s kitchen just days before the murder, and the basket was full. A small refrigerator, usually stocked with cans of soda and bottles of water, was also empty.
The house was also littered with burning candles — candles in jars, votive candles and tea light candles, Lake County Crime Lab forensic examiner Jamie Walsh said.
“There were a lot of candles in the residence,” he said. “Many of them had already burned themselves out. One was on top of a television in the bedroom and it melted right through the plastic top of the TV.”
Defendant Danna Weimer, who faces 17 charges including aggravated murder and burglary in the case, sat expressionless throughout the day, looking away as jurors leaned forward in their seats to see photos of Eleanor Robertson’s body as it was uncovered in her bedroom by crime scene investigators.
Weimer’s son, Zachary Weimer, faces the same 17 charges on Nov. 13, court records show.
Though Robertson’s body was found hours into the whole-house missing-persons investigation, Walsh said he “had a bad feeling” he would find something under the mattress piled with clothing and bedding in the master bedroom.
“I thought there was too much stuff piled next to the bed. We started pulling the bedding and clothing away and we saw a leg,” he said. “We had to stop processing as soon as we found the body and the coroner was immediately called.”
Scott Roberston’s strong voice carried across the courtroom as he described his mother’s home to the jury, but a sob caught in the man’s chest when Lake County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Bartolotta handed him a slim book.
“This is my father’s memory book,” he said. “This is the book from his funeral. It has his name inscribed on the front. I have an identical one at my house.”
The book was found in a locked gun safe inside Danna Weimer’s bedroom at 2000 Sexton Road in Austinburg Township, along with several other items belonging to Eleanor Robertson, Bartolotta said.
Along with the evidence from the safe, officers executing the search warrant found Nutri-Grain cereal bar wrappers littering the yard of the Austinburg Township home.