Cousin hopes for arrest in death of ‘The Ultimate Cowboy’ from Rogers

Cold Case

The Columbiana County Sheriff's Office is looking into new tips in the Rogers murder case

ROGERS, Ohio (WKBN) — Mike Williams was “The Ultimate Cowboy;” he loved horses and rodeos.

Williams was killed in August of 2005, but no one has ever been arrested for his beating death.

The death affected Belinda Puchajda, his cousin, so much, that she formed a support group for family and friends of murder victims and missing persons in Columbiana County.

“Mike was a very unique character,” Puchajda said. “He had all different kinds of friends from all kinds of spectrums.”

Williams, who had worked the midnight shift at Vallourec Star the morning he was killed, was found just before 9 a.m. Aug. 30, 2005, inside his car near his home on Greenwood Road in Rogers.

At first, Lisbon state troopers were called for a report of a car off the roadway. They thought that Williams had been in an accident, but a closer examination found that he had been beaten to death with a blunt object.

Detective Sgt. Jeff Haugh of the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office is now the lead investigator on the case. The two detectives who originally investigated it have retired.

He said there have been multiple witnesses interviewed in the course of the investigation but not all of them have been credible.

One theory of the case is that two people are responsible for the death of Williams, Haugh said. Haugh said Williams was killed over something that was personal.

Haugh said there has been activity on the case, including two tips he received in the last six months.

“We look into everything, no matter how small it is,” Haugh said.

Puchajda said she was living out of the area when Williams was killed. Growing up, the two were very close, she said.

To help her with grief and to help other families in dealing with police and prosecutors in the aftermath of homicide investigations, Puchajda formed the Columbiana County Families of Homicide Victims. The group also helps people who are family or friends of someone who has gone missing.

The group has a Facebook page and she goes where she can, such as fairs and festivals, to spread the word of the CCFHV’s mission and also to spotlight unsolved homicide and missing person cases from the county.

There are at least 25 unsolved homicides listed on the group’s website.

“I wasn’t planning on starting an organization but people started hearing about us,” Puchajda said.

Williams’ death had taken a toll on his mother, who is also her aunt, Puchajda said.

“It destroyed my aunt. He was her only child. It tortured her,” Puchajda said.

Her aunt was so desperate she tried just about anything to find out who killed Williams.

“My aunt paid for, I can’t even tell how many psychics,” Puchajda said. “Your life stops at that murder.”

Anyone with information on the case can call Haugh at 330-424-7255.

WKBN covered the unsolved murder of Williams in 2012. You can see that video from our archives above.

This story is part of a series of cold cases that WKBN is examining.

Do you have a cold case that you’d like us to look into further? Submit a cold case to WKBN.

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