2 bodies found in 2 Dayton houses; person of interest named in deaths of Mansfield couple

The bodies of a missing Mansfield couple were found days apart in different vacant houses in Dayton, and police said a man being held on a weapons charge is a person of interest.

Todd Burkhart, 28, and Kyla Hayton, 21, were reported missing on Nov. 16 from Mansfield. Burkhart’s body was found Friday night in a West Stewart Street house. On Monday, officers discovered Hayton’s body in another vacant house on the same street.

Hayton was five months pregnant, according to Burkhart’s older sister Courtney Burkhart.

Coroner’s investigators determined both deaths were homicides, and Dayton Police Lt. Jason Hall said Larry Rodgers is a person of interest. Officers arrested Rodgers on Friday for having a weapon as a convicted felon.

“At this time Mr. Rodgers is our sole person of interest,” Hall said.

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Just one house separates where the couple’s bodies were found.

Burkhart died from multiple gunshot wounds, the Montgomery County Coroner’s office said. Hall said Hayton’s autopsy will be today.

The coroner’s report said Burkhart was killed on Nov. 16. Dayton police said it appeared Hayton had also been dead “for some time” before she was found Monday.

Courtney Burkhart said her brother had a huge heart and was loyal to his family and friends.

Hayton has a 4-year-old daughter, Ariella, who is not Todd Burkhart’s biological child, but he always treated her like his own, his sister said.

“That’s his kid,” Courtney Burkhart said. “He loved Ariella.”

Courtney Burkhart said the couple had been dating for about a year and a half.

“Todd was my best friend,” Courtney Burkhart said.

Mansfield police Capt. Shari Robertson said the department’s major crimes detectives will assist Dayton police in “any way possible.”

“Unfortunately, this is not the outcome we had hoped for, and we ask that you keep both families in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Robertson said.

The car Todd Burkhart and Hayton were driving was found in Dayton on Wednesday.

The 2003 Toyota Corolla belonged to Hayton’s father, Brent. It was found near West Stewart Street and Wildwood Avenue.

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The driver’s side window was busted in. Some of the couple’s clothes were strewn about outside the car on the ground.

Dayton police said belongings of the missing Mansfield couple were found in the area, including behind the house in the wooded area.

Family members of Hayton and Todd Burkhart said the two dropped off Hayton’s daughter Nov. 16 in Columbus. They were supposed to return for the child on Nov. 17. They have not been seen since.

Relatives told Mansfield police they may have been trying to get a gun in Dayton for protection, a report stated.

Hayton was reported missing at the beginning of last week, and was believed to be with Burkhart. He had been reported missing to Ashland police by his sister, but had been living in Mansfield, police said.

Courtney Burkhart said the couple told everyone they were going to Columbus and, as far as she knew, her brother didn’t know anyone in Dayton.

Dayton police said Burkhart and Rodgers were “acquaintances.” Todd Burkhart served seven years in prison for burglary and attempted arson, and Courtney Burkhart said she thought the two men met in prison.

“There’s a lot of details I can’t divulge at this time,” Hall said.

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Dayton police believe Burkhart and Hayton were killed in the two separate houses they were found in. There were no weapons found in the houses, Hall said.

Dayton police continue to investigate.

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