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Michigan murder suspect dead from self-inflicted wound

By Staff | Jul 18, 2012

Thomas Jack Fritz, age 38, of Sylvania, Ohio, eluded capture over the weekend after a brutal triple homicide, prompting a nationwide manhunt.

After a standoff that lasted more than three hours, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a murder suspect who was wanted in Michigan is now dead as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Thomas Jack Fritz, age 38, of Sylvania, Ohio, eluded capture over the weekend after a brutal triple homicide that prompted a nationwide manhunt.

According to authorities, the shootings occurred around 11:40 p.m. on July 13 at the Blissfield, Mich. home Fritz shared with his ex-girlfriend, Amy Lynn Merrill, age 33. Merrill and her sister Lisa Michelle Gritzmaker, age 24, who was eight months pregnant, were killed. Their mother, Robin Lynn McCowan, age 52, was hospitalized with non-fatal injuries. Police found the women at a home after responding to a 911 call from one of the victims.

Fritz moved in with Merrill last winter along with her two sons from another relationship and a toddler the couple had together. But investigators said, Fritz was apparently unhappy when Merrill broke up with him three weeks ago.

Earlier this week, Michigan State Police formally charged the suspect with two counts of open murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder in Lenawee County. Rumors circulated, leading investigators to believe Fritz was hiding out near Cleveland, however, a break in the case ultimately lead them to West Virginia.

On Tuesday, the U. S. Marshals, West Virginia State Police and deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, along with several other departments, converged on a residence located on Cow House Road, in Tyler County. Shortly after they arrived, a shot rang out. It was later confirmed Fritz had taken his own life.

Fritz, who was reportedly a decorated veteran, served in the Ohio National Guard beginning in 1997 and later the Army Reserve. He then spent nearly a year in Iraq with the guard’s military police unit from the spring of 2003 through early 2004. The following year, Fritz was indicted on one count of sexual battery, convicted by a jury a year later in April 2006 and sentenced to a year in state prison, according to the Ohio prisons agency and court records. A judge also deemed Fritz a sexually oriented offender in May 2006, and Fritz’s name and photo appears on the Lucas County, Ohio, sex offender registry.