Video released by the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in Ohio shows the arraignment Thursday of Robert Honsch, also known as Robert Tyree, in connection with the slayings of his first wife, Marcia, and their daughter, Elizabeth, of Brewster, N.Y. / Wayne County, Ohio, Sheriff's Department
BREWSTER, N.Y. - Robert Honsch always avoided talking with his wife, Sheryl Tyree, about his past.
But then several years ago, the Ohio woman attended a prayer conference in New York, where her husband grew up. While there, she and her mother, Kathleen Tyree, looked up Robert's older brother, John Honsch, who lived in Garnerville, and went to visit him.
It was while sitting on John Honsch's porch that the Tyrees learned Robert had lied; in fact, he had been married before. Sheryl Tyree decided to stay with Robert Honsch anyway, praying that one day the truth about his past would come out, Kathleen Tyree told The Journal News on Thursday.
"My daughter has prayed and prayed," she said.
Honsch, 70, is now awaiting extradition to Massachusetts to face a murder charge in the death of his earlier wife, Marcia Honsch, 53, who was shot in the head and dumped in the Tolland State Forest in Otis, Mass., in 1995. Authorities said evidence taken from him and his home in Ohio also linked him to the slaying of Elizabeth Honsch, the couple's teenage daughter, whose body was found Sept. 28, 1995, behind a strip mall in New Britain, Conn., 40 miles from where Marcia Honsch's body was found.
Police finally broke the case last month after a woman in Virginia contacted New York police about Marcia and Elizabeth Honsch's disappearances. That led police to track down Marcia Honsch's New York family, who confirmed they had lost contact with the mother and daughter in 1995.
Robert Honsch, was taken into custody Tuesday and appeared Thursday at Wayne County Municipal Court in Wooster, Ohio, before Judge Timothy R. Vansickle, who set an Aug. 18 extradition hearing. Held as a fugitive from justice, Robert Honsch was represented by Assistant Public Defender Michael S. Rudy.
Rudy did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
John Honschsaid he and his family had lost contact with his brother decades ago and was were shocked to hear about his alleged involvement in Marcia Honsch's death.
"It not only comes as a shock but as a horror," John Honsch said. "Bobby had dropped out of our family 20, 25 years ago. He was kind of an oddball. We kind of wrote him off and everyone went about their business."
Honsch said the last time he saw his brother was at their mother's home in New Jersey. Robert Honsch came with Marcia. When the Honsches' mother died in 1998, Robert Honsch was nowhere to be found and didn't even attend the funeral.
Honsch was aloof and uncommunicative, his brother said.
"He was a nerd when he was young," John Honsch said. "He was noncommittal to anything and he didn't talk."
Sheryl Tyree, who could not be reached for comment, was driving a truck when she met Robert Honsch at a Christian truck stop in Ohio, Kathleen Tyree said.
Tyree told Honsch she didn't like his last name and that she wasn't going to change her name, Kathleen Tyree said, so Honsch changed his to Tyree.
The two have three children together. Sheryl Tyree is now staying with one of her daughters, Kathleen Tyree said.
At his arraignment, Honsch told the judge he was unemployed but until recently had worked a minimum-wage job at Flex Technologies, a thermoplastics company. He said he was four months behind in his rent payments.
In 1995, Robert Honsch had lived with his wife and daughter on Brewster's Main Street.
Denise Lanza, 40, of Dover Plains and formerly of Brewster, said she remembered seeing Robert and Elizabeth Honsch walk into town regularly.
"She was very pretty," Lanza said of Elizabeth. "She also was quiet. She would just walk with him in town."
School officials said Elizabeth Honsch had withdrawn from Brewster High School during her sophomore year, almost six months before her body was found wrapped in trash bags and sleeping bags behind the Connecticut strip mall.
When a New Britain officer responded to the call on Sept. 28, 1995, the girl's body was still warm, police said. Her mother's decomposing body was found eight days later.
Police in New Britain and Massachusetts suspected the cases were related and brought New York State Police into the investigation when evidence, including a tax stamp on a cigarette pack, linked the two women to the Albany area.
In 2011, DNA testing showed the women were related, likely mother and daughter. Then last month a relative of Marcia Honsch from Virginia Beach, Va., sent an email to the New York State Police public information office, inquiring about the missing mother and daughter from Brewster.
The email made its way to the Brewster barracks and, eventually, led to the identities of the two "Jane Does," police said.
New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said police are still trying to determine why Honsch might have killed his wife and daughter.
"An arrest was made but that doesn't mean the investigation is over," Wardwell said. "We are still actively working on this case."
Wardwell credited the Virginia woman for helping break the case.
"That was key to solving the case," he said. "We didn't know who Marcia was or who Elizabeth was here in New Britain. We knew if we could identify our victims, we could identify the suspect."
Contributing: Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy of The Journal News
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
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