SALEM TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The community of Salem Township in Columbiana County is reeling after a mother of three is found murdered inside her home, and her five-year-old son is found shot in the head.
One of the victim's daughters tells emergency dispatchers on the 911 tape, "My sister came home from school, and our mom's bleeding really bad and she won't wake up."
The victim's 12-year-old daughter got off the school bus sometime after 4 p.m. and went inside the family's State Route 45 and Salamar Drive home to find her mother murdered, and her five-year-old brother in a puddle of blood, but still breathing.
Next door neighbor Andrew Boyle says his mother was home and witnessed two of the murder victim's children running from the house in horror, distraught beyond belief.
"My mom knew something was wrong. The two younger girls ran over here saying, 'My mommy's dead, my mommy's dead.' So she ran over there, and that's where she found the boy who had been shot in the head," Boyle said.
Neighbors identify the deceased woman who lived in the home as Melinda Todd. They identify the five-year-old, who is Todd's biological grandson, as Cole. But friends say Cole has been with Todd since birth, and called her mom.
His biological mother, Miranda Todd, who is the daughter of the deceased woman, is currently in prison. She was convicted of murdering her seven-month-old infant son in June.
Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone will not confirm the identity of the shooting victims until all the family has been notified.
"Upon entering the residence we found a deceased adult female laying on the couch, and outside the residence was a gentleman holding the young boy with an apparent head trauma bleeding profusely from the head. My detective flew with the young boy last night from Salem to Akron Children's. He had brain surgery last night, and the condition I do not know," Stone said.
Sheriff Stone called in the state's crime lab, and the new Columbiana County Homicide Task Force to investigate.
When asked if they have any suspects, Stone said, "No we don't. We have interviewed an ex-boyfriend, and I think a relative of the victim last night. Both of them had good alibis."
The sheriff is not discussing a possible motive but says there was no sign of a burglary or break-in.
Now a team of detectives is working to follow up on leads, as they hunt for the person who killed a Columbiana County mother, and left a little boy fighting for his life.