Preble County man faces murder charge

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Preble County man faces murder charge

Preble County — A 78-year-old New Paris man has been charged with murder, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of a missing Eaton man.

Joseph Kutter of 7905 W. U.S. 40, is being held in the Preble County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned today.

Prior to the Tuesday announcement of the charges against Kutter, county officials released the search warrant served at his house and filed in Preble County courts on June 2. An AK-47 rifle and a plastic tarp were among the items removed from Kutter’s home.

Kutter was arrested Saturday after cadaver dogs discovered the body of Bobby Joe Grubbs, 31, of 813 Ashtree Drive in Eaton, concealed on Kutter’s property around 11 a.m. Saturday.

Grubbs’ family reported him missing on May 26.

Sheriff Mike Simpson said he believes that Grubbs was trespassing on Kutter’s property and was shot while searching for ginseng plants.

The search warrant inventory list states that a body believed to be Bobby Grubbs was found in a blue tarp in a mulch pile southwest of the house and two small bones were found on a path behind the house.

Grubbs’ death marks the county’s second homicide of the year.

Grubbs did have a criminal record, Simpson said. There is a man by the name of Bobby Joe Grubbs who had an open case in Preble County Court of Common Pleas regarding charges of breaking and entering and theft. A jury trial was scheduled for Monday.

Ginseng in Ohio

Ohio is among the top four states that sell ginseng plants to China, according to Melissa Moser, researcher and permit coordinator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial herb that is used primarily for medicinal purposes.

It is also considered an aphrodisiac and good for memory purposes.

“It’s one of those plants that is not endangered in Ohio, but it is a little more rare to find it in large patches,” Moser said. “Some people are very protective because of its value.”

Price of ginseng fluctuates from year to year, but right now it is sold up to $500 a pound. One root equals one plant. The number of plants per pound has dropped in Ohio to 308 in 2011 from 324 roots per pound in 2010. In 2008, the plants were worth $1,000 a pound.

“You don’t need a permit to grow it and you don’t need a permit to dig it, but you need one to buy it,” Moser said.

Currently, no one in Preble County has a permit to buy ginseng.

The state uses the permits to track what is happening to the plant species, so that ODNR can provide an accurate report to the federal Fish and Wildlife service, Moser said.

“It takes about five years before the plant is large enough to be harvested,” Moser said.

No one is allowed to collect ginseng on state property and those collecting on private property must have written permission from the property owner, Moser said.

The state’s season to collect ginseng begins Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 31 every year.

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