Two teenage brothers who had been reported missing were found dead after authorities were directed to their bodies by a third teen, who pleaded not guilty to a grand theft auto charge and was jailed, officials said.
The brothers – 14-year-old Blaine Romes and 17-year-old Blake Romes – lived together with the third teen and their mothers inside a trailer home in Ottawa in northwest Ohio, neighbors said.
The Associated Press previously identified the third teen, also a 17-year-old boy, but now is withholding his name because he has been charged as a juvenile.
The teens had been the subjects of an Amber Alert issued Thursday morning after a mother returned to the home and found a crime scene, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said. A car also was reported missing from the trailer park.
The 17-year-old boy was taken into custody Thursday afternoon at a gas station in Columbus, about 115 miles away, after stopping to ask for directions, authorities said. He was driving the missing car, police said. He faces no other charges.
Prosecutors asked a judge on Friday that the boy continue to be held in jail because they anticipate filing additional charges, which they didn’t specify.
Deputies put a hooded jacket over the boy as they led him inside, shielding his face from the media.
After sitting down inside the courtroom, he reached out for the hand of his mother, who was sitting beside him. She had been sitting with the dead boys’ mother before the hearing started.
The boy spoke only a few times during the brief hearing, answering yes when asked if he understood his rights.
The boy’s attorney and his mother declined to comment to reporters at the juvenile court hearing on Friday. The dead boys’ mother also left without commenting.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said the 17-year-old told officers that the Romes brothers were dead and gave the locations of their bodies. Few other details have been released about the case.
Sheriff Mike Chandler said the bodies were found in different locations. He declined to give additional information on what happened, saying he was limited because those involved are juveniles.
Chandler said authorities were waiting for autopsies to be completed to determine the causes of the boys’ deaths.
Neighbors at the trailer park say the women who lived there worked overnight shifts. Brad Bailey, who lives across the street, said he saw the women outside pacing back and forth for much of the day after the boys were reported missing Thursday. He said he had seen all three boys laughing and joking together in the past.
Classmates and friends mourned the brothers as news of their deaths spread through Ottawa, a village of 4,500 people south of Toledo.
The younger brother, Blaine, was supposed to join his classmates early Thursday on an eighth-grade class trip to Washington.
Kevin Brinkman, superintendent of Ottawa-Glandorf Schools, said the trip went ahead as scheduled. He said a steady stream of students had been meeting with counselors at the two schools the boys attended.
Blaine was on the basketball and track teams, Brinkman said.
Blake was a junior at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, where he was involved in track and choir, principal Jayson Selgo said Friday. The school has about 530 students, and word of his death traveled fast in the community.
“He was very well respected and liked by the students and faculty, as well. A very friendly kid,” Selgo said.
Marquis West, who knows all three boys, said they had lived together with their moms for less than a year.
“Every time we got together, they were always uplifting toward each other,” said West, an 18-year-old senior at Ottawa-Glandorf High School.
West said he knew the three teens from playing basketball in a church league. The two brothers were especially close, he said, despite their age difference.
“They were always together,” West said. “The only time they were separate was when they were on different teams.”
Counselors were available in the district for students and staff members who might need help coping with the news.
“I think everyone is trying to get through this difficult time in their own way,” Selgo said.
The school posted a notice on its website Friday saying “our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Blake and Blaine.”
Selgo said the 17-year-old in custody did not attend the high school.
The trailer park, surrounded by farm fields on the edge of the village, has a mix of well-kept trailers with neatly trimmed yards and other lots that are overgrown. The trailer where the families live has weeds growing in the flower bed, broken blinds and an autographed football in the window. In the back, there’s a motorcycle parked in a shed and a smashed barbecue grill lid and other discarded items on the ground.
Angela Weber, who moved in next door to the family two months ago, said it’s a peaceful community.
“We live in a small town for a reason,” she said.
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