OTTAWA — Michael Fay left the courtroom Monday to spend what likely will be the rest of his life in prison as the family of the two teenagers he killed tried to pick up the pieces of their lives destroyed by an unexplainable act of violence.
Fay was sentenced to life in prison with the chance for parole after serving 30 years for each of the two murders. Judge Randall Basinger ordered the sentences be served one after another, meaning Fay, who now is 18, will not be eligible for parole until he's 77.
It was an emotional day in the courtroom for the family of Blake Romes, 17, and Blaine Romes, 14. Fay shot and killed the two boys on May 9 after an argument during which Fay spun into an uncontrollable rage.
Fay delivered a statement, most of which sounded like a victim's impact statement not a criminal defendant's apology. He apologized to the Romes family while saying he loved the two boys he killed and considered them brothers.
Basinger said Fay's statement showed how much of a psychopath he really was.
“Mr. Fay, the level of calculated and coldblooded violence in this case is nearly incomprehensive,” Basinger said. “I find it chilling another human being could commit, not just one or two, but a series of thoughtless acts.”
The judge rehashed parts of the crime, including Fay's confession in which he admitted to disposing of one of the bodies in “a sewage ditch.” The judge also blasted Fay for the numerous stories he made up.
“You are a ruthless murderer and a liar,” Basinger said. “You present an extreme danger to society and are not fit to live in society.”
Before he left for prison, Fay sat listening to nine family members, most through the reading of statements by victims' advocates, tell how the deaths of the two teenagers ruined their lives.
A mother's grace
The mother of the two dead teens, Michelle Grothause, did not express anger toward Fay. She said Fay had had a painful childhood with a lot of struggles.
It seemed as though Grothause was trying to explain and make sense of Fay's actions. She said Fay was a good kid but had a lot of pain bottled up inside.
“There is no justice for any of this,” Grothause said in her statement.
Grothause urged all parents, guidance counselors and teachers to pay attention to warning signs and assist children in getting help so they don't fall through the cracks.
“I don't know what is fair and just anymore. I feel [Fay] should get the help he was passed over so many times,” Grothause said in her statement.
Searching for answers
The pain and struggles she spoke about were allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of an older foster brother, Fay's attorney Bill Kluge said.
“We are a product of what our environment has done to us,” Kluge said. “It's important you all understand how we got to this point today.”
Fay's father was a violent drug abuser and Fay, himself, was bipolar, Kluge said. Fay never discussed his problems with his family, instead chose to try to manage by keeping the problems to himself. Eventually, Fay was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the sexual assault, Kluge said.
Anytime Fay got close to someone, somehow that person seemed to leave Fay's life, Kluge said.
“I don't know if that will help you understand what happened with Mike in his life or care about it. These things just don't pop up out of the blue,” Kluge said.
In his statement, Fay spent most of his time talking about the love he had for the teens he killed or how he would remember them. He told their family how much the teens loved them.
“To Blake and Blaine, you already know I love you with everything in my heart,” he said.
After the hearing, Assistant Putnam County Prosecutor Todd Schroeder said the question of why Fay killed the two boys still has not been answered.
“I think the conclusion out of all of this is that it is a question that just cannot be satisfactorily answered,” Schroeder said.
Anatomy of the killings
During the hearing, Schroeder told the judge about the murders that began with an argument over whether Fay's older brother would be moving back into a cramped trailer with the Romes boys, Fay, Grothause, and Fay's mother.
Fay did not want his brother living with them but the Romes brothers said it was OK. Fay's anger grew with each passing minute.
That night, Blaine was readying himself for a class trip to Washington, D.C., the next day. Eventually, both brothers went to bed.
“As they slept, the defendant continued to be angry and couldn't calm down,” Schroeder said.
Fay took a shower then drove to Lima where he ate at a fast-food restaurant before going to a storage facility to retrieve a .22-caliber handgun. He returned to the trailer, put the gun to Blaine's head and waited for passing train before pulling the trigger, hoping the train's noise would be enough to cover up the sound of the shot, Schroeder said.
Fay walked into the room where Blake slept and shot him in the head but somehow the bullet to the head didn't kill Blake. Fay later beat Blake and eventually strangled him after Blake began making ghastly sounds.
After both boys were dead, Fay dumped Blaine's body in a ditch outside of town on county Road 7. Blake's body was found under the trailer behind the skirting.
Fay fled to Columbus to try to find his father, Schroeder said.
Fay did not have a criminal record and never had an angry or violent exchange with the Romes' teens before the night of the killings, Schroeder said.