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Maumee resident and former fiance guilty of murdering Toledo man

James Wappner's body was found in a rural Lenawee County field in December. He had been stabbed more than 20 times.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

MONROE, Michigan — *Editor's note: A previous version of this article misstated that James Blanchong was convicted of murder. The two people who were convicted by the Monroe County Courthouse were Jessica Morris and Raymond Blanchong.

A Maumee resident was found guilty Wednesday of the 2018  death of James Wappner in Erie Township, Michigan. Raymond Blanchong's conviction comes about a month after his one-time fiance, Jessica Morris, also of Maumee, was convicted on murder charges in the same case.

A Monroe County jury found Blanchong, 40, guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery and unlawful imprisonment. Morris, 30, was convicted Sept. 19 on the same charges.

According to evidence presented during the trials, Blanchong and Morris arranged to meet Wappner, of Toledo, at a hotel in Bedford, Michigan, on Dec. 2, 2018, with the intention of purchasing drugs. Security camera footage captured the victim entering Blanchong’s pickup, shortly before the vehicle began to shake violently and then abruptly leave the parking lot with the victim still inside. 

On Dec. 3, 2018, a 911 caller reported spotting a body lying face down in a field off Lipp Highway, in southeastern Lenawee County. The body later was identified as Wappner, who had been stabbed more than 20 times. 

After robbing and killing Wappner, Blanchong and Morris fled across multiple states before being arrested in Aurora, Colorado, on outstanding murder warrants. 

Sentencing for Blanchong is set for Dec. 12 before Circuit Court Judge Daniel White, who presided over the trial. Morris' sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14, also before Judge White. The penalty for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.