WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — Frank Penezich was found dead on the side of the road with what the coroner described as “suspicious injuries,” yet his death was ruled undetermined. His family continues to search for answers while working to keep his memory alive.
Penezich, better known as Danny, is deeply missed by his loved ones.
“He was the rock of our family,” said his mother Malinda.
Standing by the large memorial in his memory on Pine Avenue in Warren, Penezich’s younger sister Amanda McMillan described him as a fun, loving, and caring person who also loved food.
“He’d help you with anything that you needed help with. He’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” said McMillan.
“He was just such a loving person. I don’t think there’s one person that could say something bad about him like we had said before, he did struggle. He’s not perfect, nobody is,” said Malinda.
The memorial made up of stuffed animals, sidewalk chalk, and candles is near the site where Penezich’s body was found on July 14, 2021.
More than a year later, his family still has more questions than answers.
“I don’t understand like it’s been a year and nothing like, it’s like he’s being forgotten about,” said Malinda.
The results of Penezich’s autopsy didn’t answer much with the coroner labeling his cause and manner of death as undetermined.
Malinda: We’re just left with…
McMillan: At a standstill
Malinda: Yea, more questions why
According to a report of examination from the Trumbull County coroner’s office, an autopsy found numerous blunt force injuries that occurred at or near the time of his death.
A drug screen completed after he passed showed mixed fentanyl, methamphetamine and recent marijuana use.
The report went on to say “the unexplained circumstances preceding Mr. Penezich’s death combined with his inherently suspicious injuries present a significant concern for a fatality following a physical altercation.”
His family firmly believes he died at the hands of someone else.
“Somebody felt that they could play God and determine whether he lived or died. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that it’s right either that it’s just ruled undetermined,” said McMillan.
“And I promised him he’d get justice and it just seems like he’s not gonna get justice and it really bothers me,” said Malinda.
The coroner’s examination report did note the death classification could be reevaluated should additional information become available.
Warren detectives said the case remains under investigation. Meanwhile, his family asks those who know something to speak up.
“The cops can only do so much. The detectives can only do so much. It takes people, and I know people seen this. People know they need to speak up,” said Malinda.