3 charged in Middletown murders have lengthy criminal history

Doug Best (left); Derrick Brown (middle); and Charles Ray Graham

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Doug Best (left); Derrick Brown (middle); and Charles Ray Graham

Three weeks before a Middletown man allegedly took part in the murder of two people, he was charged with fishing without a license in Butler County, according to Middletown Municipal Court records.

But this certainly wasn’t the first time Charles Ray Graham, 27, of 2002 Pearl St., was charged with a crime.

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Since 2008, Graham has been charged with drug abuse crack cocaine twice, assault five times, including three times in 2008, domestic violence twice and several traffic violations, according to court records reviewed by the Journal-News.

Graham and Doug Best, 28, of 402 Richmond St., and Derrick Brown, 22, of 815 Crawford St., have been charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated arson and one count of kidnapping.

Best was charged with felonious assault in 2013 and driving under suspension this year. Brown has been charged with drug abuse methamphetamine, drug abuse marijuana, and driving under suspension, all this year.

Middletown police said the three Middletown men are responsible for committing two murders in the city last month, though they haven’t disclosed how the crimes may be connected.

The three men were in court last week for their arraignments, and Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall ordered them all to be held without bond and taken back to the city jail.

Preliminary hearings for the three men will take place Thursday in Middletown court, and relatives of the two victims, Tiffany Hoskins, 36, and Joseph Romano, 47, said they will attend every court hearing.

On Nov. 4, police responded to 1517 Lafayette Ave. and found Romano fatally shot inside the kitchen of the home. He was found about 8 a.m. by two people described by police as housemates. His death was ruled a homicide by the Butler County Coroner’s Office, who said Romano died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Less than 24 hours later, the body of Hoskins was found inside a home at 1507 Jacoby Ave. that caught fire. Firefighters found flames shooting from the second floor of the home when they arrived at about 4:20 a.m. Nov. 5. After being told the home was vacant and fighting the blaze for about 1o minutes, firefighters found Hoskins’ body at the top of the home’s stairway.

Hoskins had a gunshot wound to the head, Middletown police said.

MORE: Woman dead before house caught fire, family says

After an investigation, police served four search warrants last week at several residences in the city. Search warrants also were served on two Mercedes Benz vehicles in Butler County as part of an ongoing investigation, according to police.

During last week’s arraignment, police said Hoskins was raped on Jacoby Avenue, forced next door, shot in the back of the head, doused with bleach and gasoline, and lit on fire in hopes of covering the crimes.

As the statement of facts were read in court, Hoskins’ sister, Tina Payne, sitting in the back of the courtroom, wept. She said her sister had no connection to the three men charged with her murder.

MORE: Family’s tears flow as they learn how Middletown woman died

She said the alleged murders have torn apart five families — those murdered and those charged — but said at least the three men charged are still alive.

“We have nothing,” Payne said. “Absolutely nothing. They didn’t just take my sister. They took a piece of all of us.”

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