BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Joseph Norman Hill, Sr. died four years ago in California of natural causes, but in the 1970s, Hill lived in Boardman. On Thursday, police and prosecutors announced that during that time, he was responsible for the murder of not one but two young boys.
Photos of Brad Bellino and David Evans were together at Boardman Township Hall during a news conference to announce that Hill likely murdered both boys — Bellino at age 12 in 1972 and Evans at age 13 in 1975. But could there be more?
“It’s very possible that there are other cases out there. Here, California, somewhere in between along killer Hill’s journey,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
The link between Hill and Bellino was announced five months ago. Thursday’s announcement was that Hill most likely murdered Evans, too.
“The body was found approximately 1 mile from where Bradley Bellino’s body was found,” said Boardman Police Chief Todd Werth.
Werth said that Evans’ body was found on Jan. 23, 1975, on Crestline Place in Boardman, about 1 mile from his home on Ridgewood Drive.
Evans was diabetic and despite an abrasion and a broken bone, the coroner ruled that he died of natural causes.
“However, during that time, several investigators from the Boardman Police Department, based upon the information at the time, felt that this was the result of a homicide,” Werth said.
After it was determined that Hill had likely killed Bellino, police convinced current coroner David Kennedy to change Evans’ death to a homicide and then have his clothes tested.
“As a result of the testing, it was found that a DNA profile taken off of David Evans’ underwear came back to Joseph Hill, Sr. also,” Werth said.
“I was comfortable we would end up getting an indictment if Mr. Hill was still alive,” said Mahoning County Prosecutor Gina DeGenova.
“We had two young boys dead,” said Boardman Police Sgt. Mike Hughes.
Hughes said the case file on Evans indicated panic at the time in the township.
“Actually, there were letters to the newspaper about that, about we’re not letting our children play outside anymore,” Hughes said.
“Mr. Hill ruined so many lives. I only wished that he lived long enough to have been brought to justice,” DeGenova said.
Yost said the investigation has conclusively linked both homicides to Hill. In both cases, the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office determined that the forensic evidence would be sufficient to present the cases to a grand jury for indictment if Hill had remained alive.
“While Hill cannot fully be held accountable for these horrendous crimes, our hope is that after almost 50 years, knowing who is responsible for Bradley and David’s deaths can bring some sense of closure to their families and friends,” Werth said.
Yost called Hill a serial killer and said that other victims are being sought.
Yost joined law enforcement and thanked everyone for their work on the case. He talked about the new science and the diligence of the investigators.
“Sometimes superheroes don’t wear capes. Sometimes they wear lab coats,” Yost said. “You need to fight for justice. You need to fight for the victims because everybody matters.”
Police on Thursday said they don’t believe Hill was involved with any other murders anywhere around Youngstown.
Evans’ parents are now deceased. He has a brother and sister who live out of state. They declined to be part of Thursday’s news conference and asked for privacy concerning the latest news about their brother’s death.
Anyone with more information about Hill is asked to call the Boardman Police Department.