A Liberty Twp man has admitted to murdering a 23-year-old woman then wrapping her in a blanket and dumping her in a field across from his house.
Michael Strouse, 29, of Bluffs Drive, pleaded guilty to murder, gross abuse of a corpse and menacing by stalking Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court for the death of Ellen “Ellie” Weik. Charges of tampering with evidence and petty theft were dismissed in exchange for the plea. The aggravated murder charge was also lowered to murder.
Strouse faces life in prison with parole eligibility after 17 1/2 years. Sentencing by Judge Greg Howard is set for April 17.
The courtroom was filled Tuesday with friends and family members, mostly of Weik, but also of Strouse. They listened to the details of the crimes read by the prosecutors, including Strouse placing a plastic bag over Weik’s head, causing her death.
Strouse is responsible for the death of Weik at his Liberty Twp. home, located about one-quarter of a mile from the field where her body was found. Strouse was charged with the death on Aug. 25, 2018.
Weik went missing July 29 from her West Chester Twp. home. Her mother reported her missing Aug. 1.
“On or about July 29, Michael Strouse did cause the death of Ellen Weik … this defendant placed plastic wrap (over) Ellen Weik’s head causing her death by suffocation,”Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich said during the hearing.
From January to July 2018, Strouse contacted Weik on numerous occasions through multiple text messages using multiple numbers while posing as other people or anonymous people, Muennich said.
“In February 2018, the defendant sent by Facebook messenger to Ellen Weik graphic and obscene photos of Ellen Weik,” the assistant prosecutor said.
In April 2018, Strouse went to Weik’s home and filmed her at night through a window then sent her a portion of the video.
These actions caused mental distress to Weik, who made a police report for stalking and telephone harassment with the West Chester Police Department on April 22, 2018.
Strouse treated Weik’s dead body in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities “when the defendant, after murdering Ellen Weik, placed her nude body in a blanket and disposed of her in a field across from his house, bound in duct tape with plastic wrap around her head,” Muennich said.
After the judge went through the legal implications of the plea, Strouse said guilty three times to the three charges.
Families and attorneys declined comment after the hearing.
Last month a suppression hearing was moved to April because 17 hours of interrogation by West Chester police of Strouse had not been transcribed. The trial date was also moved from April 1 to June 10. Those dates are now moot.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.