According to the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office, investigators have arrested 20-year-old James Leider of Geneva Township in the slayings of Cord Cox, 23, and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Betheny Mehall.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini announced the arrest at a 4 p.m. news conference. Sartini said Leider was identified as a person of interest in the case early on. During police questioning, he allegedly admitted he had been at the scene of the crime, Sartini said.
The bodies of Cox and Mehall were discovered Sunday afternoon in a vehicle parked on a remote road in Ashtabula County, about 50 miles northeast of Cleveland. Coroner's investigator Richard Mongell said the preliminary autopsy indicates Cox and Mehall each died from a single bullet to the back of the head.
The killings are believed to have occurred between 7:45 and 8:15 p.m. Saturday. According to Mongell, authorities believe both victims were killed with the same weapon. Forensic evidence also indicates the killer was in the back seat at the time of the slayings.
Sartini did not elaborate on an alleged motive but did say Leider and Cox had known each other for about four years.
"There was a relationship between the male victim and Mr. Leider that involved a past history of drug transactions," he said.
Investigators believe Mehall was killed because she was a witness to Cox's slaying, Sartini said.
According to Sartini, Leider has no prior criminal history. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and is being held at the county jail on a $5 million bond.