An Ohio murder suspect who reportedly hid out in Arizona for 30 years under an assumed name has been indicted by a grand jury and is awaiting extradition back to Ohio to face trial.
Ronald E. Stahlman, 56, was apprehended on a murder warrant at his Payson home on Ash Street Dec. 8 by U.S. Marshals with the help of Gila County Narcotics Task Force officers for allegedly stabbing 18-year-old Bernard Williamson to death in Warren, Ohio back in April 1979.
Authorities believe Stahlman left Ohio shortly after a warrant was issued for his arrest and fled to Arizona to start a new life under a new name — Jim O’Neil — with his wife and two children.
According to the U.S. Marshals, Stahlman, then a member of the Outlaws Motor Club, and some friends were allegedly involved in an assault that ended with Williamson stabbed to death on a street corner.
Stahlman’s daughter, Rhonda Doss, 31, says her father was never a member of a motorcycle club and that because he owned a motorcycle, authorities automatically assumed he was part of the club.
“They are going on a lot of hearsay,” Doss said.
According to Doss, Stahlman married in 1976 and, when she was 2 and her sister 4, they moved to Arizona with their parents.
When Doss was 12, she and her sister changed their names, but her mother has always worked under the same name.
When asked why Doss and her sister changed their names, Doss said she does not know.
Stahlman never held a permanent job in the area, but his wife worked for 16 years, Doss said.
Doss said her father is innocent and was not involved in the murder.
On Dec. 8, officers from the Payson Police Department, NOVFTF, U.S. Marshals, Gila County Task Force and DPS detectives arrested Stahlman at his home in Payson without incident, according to U.S. Marshals public affairs officer Matt Hershey.
“We confronted him with his true identity and he admitted it was him,” Hershey said.
Doss said when authorities showed up at the home, the family was surprised.
“We had no clue what was going on,” Doss said. “They told us a lot of lies. We are still trying to find out what the exact charges are.”
Doss said Stahlman was wanted on a warrant for unlawful flight, not homicide.
Hershey confirmed that the warrant was for homicide.
Stahlman is awaiting extradition back to Ohio in the Maricopa County Jail.
Trumbull County Prosecuting Attorney Dennis Watkins said an Ohio grand jury indicted Stahlman on murder Dec. 30. Now the attorney’s office is in the process of sending an application of extradition to the governor of Ohio and then the Arizona governor’s office.
“We are taking all the legal steps to take him back,” Watkins said. “We are doing everything we can to obtain custody.”
Watkins said under the Constitution and statutory law, when someone leaves or flees to another state, there is a procedure that requires one governor to issue a warrant to the other state’s governor to obtain custody and bring the suspect back.
“It is a fairly common procedure and the purpose of it is to be fair to people brought from one state to another and recognize the sovereignty of each state,” Watkins said.
Watkins said the hearing in Arizona has two purposes, to state that Stahlman is charged with a felony murder in Ohio and that Stahlman is the man the attorney’s office says he is.
“We have to prove that he is Ronald Stahlman, not whether he did it,” Watkins said. If Stahlman is returned to Ohio, then he will face trial for murder.
The prosecutor’s office has until March to file the paperwork.