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A former reputed Youngstown mobster in prison for a double murder in the Columbus area was indicted Thursday in a 39-year-old mass murder in Canfield Township, in which a General Motors security guard, his wife and their 4-year-old daughter were brutally murdered.
Investigators allege James P. Ferrara, 64, a former Youngstown mobster, fatally shot Ben Marsh, shot Marilyn Marsh from behind and beat her and beat Heather Marsh to death with his empty gun. Investigators found 1-year-old Christopher Marsh covered in blood and crawling on the family's floor.
Ferrara was indicted Thursday on three counts of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. Death penalty specifications were not added because the death penalty was not an option for prosecutors in 1974, when the killings were committed.
Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said sheriff's investigators recently asked for fingerprints found by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation at the time to be re-processed. Those fingerprints came back as a match for Ferrara in 2009.
Court records, interviews and police archives obtained by WKBN.COM show Ferrara was convicted for fatally shooting and beating two Columbus-area drug dealers to death with a gun during what was supposed to be a massive cocaine theft.
A former investigator on that case, current Perry Township Police Chief Bob Oppenheimer, said during his investigation he found Ferrara was connected with the Youngstown mob.
Ferrara is currently being held in the Marion Correctional Institution on 1984 convictions for aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and has been denied parole several times, including after a Jan. 14 parole hearing. His next parole hearing is scheduled for November 2015.
Archives show a GM supervisor found Ben Marsh, his wife Marilyn and 4-year-old Heather brutally murdered on Dec. 13, 1974 at their S. Turner Road home. Their 1-year-old son, Christopher, was found alive and covered in blood. Both Ferrara and Marsh worked at GM, according to sources.
Ben Marsh was shot four times, Marilyn was beaten and shot once from behind and Heather was found beaten to death with a blunt instrument, according to WKBN and WYTV archives.
Ben Marsh was a security guard at GM and Ferrara was a GM union officials, according to sources. On Dec. 13, 1974, Marsh was scheduled to fill in for a co-worker for a later shift. When he failed to show up for that shift and his regular scheduled shift in the morning, his supervisor went to his home, found the garage broken into and the trio dead, according to archives.
Archives say Marilyn Marsh had called Ben Marsh that morning to talk about weekend plans to go to New Castle, Pa. Marilyn Marsh and their two children were dressed in "outer garments" after coming into the home after a dentist appointment. Ben Marsh was wearing only underwear when he was found, archives said.
Investigators at the time offered $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer. Another $1,000 reward was offered for those who had information about the murder weapon, which investigators said was a .38-caliber revolver.
Archives said the killer fired one gunshot into the air, then four into Ben Marsh, who stumbled into a bedroom and died.
The killer, archives said, then fired a shot at Marilyn Marsh, and used his gun to beat her and the 4-year-old.
Investigators at the time found a signed paycheck and small coin collection that was undisturbed. They also found a filter-tipped cigarette lit at the wrong end with a finger print. None of the Marsh's smoked, archives said.
Police said they believed the killer's getaway driver fled without the shooter, so he stole Marilyn Marsh's car from the driveway. Investigators found the car arrived at about 6:15 p.m. the day of the murder in a Kmart parking lot in Austintown seven miles from the Marsh's home.
Investigators offered immunity to the getaway driver after the murders, but no one came forward. Gains said his office is the only one that can offer immunity to anyone who has come forward with information.
A witness gave a description of a man they saw driving the car, and a sketch artist made a rendering of what that person looked like.
A few snow showers will drift through the snowbelt Friday. More snow will move in Friday night and into Saturday throughout the region.
An Ohio Lottery Commission employee was indicted Thursday on a felony count of theft in office.
Michael Hingson remembers Sept. 11, 2001, because he lived through it. He was on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the first plane hit.
The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley doesn't want to leave anyone out in the cold during these frigid temperatures.
Families in Liberty Township who may be struggling are getting some help this holiday season.
On Thursday, some YSU business students showcased some of the work they have been doing as part of an e-commerce and social media course.
A truck driver lost his brakes and crashed into a fence, turning it on its side.
The Mahoning County Commissioners passed their 2014 budget on Thursday.
Some officers in Trumbull County were brushing up on their skills Thursday in the event that they are ever put in a situation with an armed suspect.
A Youngstown toddler who battled testicular cancer and is now cancer-free was going to have a night he would never forget on Thursday.
The Wean Foundation on Thursday announced $950,000 in grants that will be split among three organizations.
Bristol Local schools are planning to close for one day to allow students and faculty to attend the funeral services of a former teacher.
A bill now being considered in Columbus could one day give judges across the state more options when it comes to handling cases involving those with serious mental illness.
A woman was killed in a one-vehicle crash Thursday morning in Columbiana County.
A man accused of stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase last week was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury.
A man accused of robbing a Youngstown pizza shop and crashing his pickup after a high-speed police chase into Boardman was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury.