Mark Anthony DiStefano was the third of four children.
His mother, Billie, married masonry business owner Mike Halka in the 1970s. He built a large home for his family on Lyon Road.
The property was large enough that Mark, along with his older brother Mike and sister Angela, could find plenty of places to get into some wild adventures. Jacqueline was his baby sister. He was a proud big brother.
A good-looking kid, Mark shot up to about 6 feet by the time he turned 15. Older girls loved him, some of them Angela’s girlfriends.
“He had no enemies. He was full of life. He loved life. He always smiled. Nothing ever bothered him, and he was always cracking jokes,” Angela says.
Calvin Jones, a close buddy of Mike DiStefano’s and a near-constant presence at the Halka property, was used to having Mark around.
“He was a good kid, man, real mild-mannered. He was not a problem child,” Jones says.
On May 9, though, Mark was not allowed to attend a school dance after being caught smoking in the bathroom. However, his parents agreed to let him go to an afterparty with his girlfriend. After stopping at a couple locations, including a restaurant in town, Mark was driven back to the home of Larry Menter on Howard Road.
“Me, Mark, and one other guy were hanging out at my dining room table. We got into a little vodka. The one guy was spending the night. I told Mark it was so late that he should just spend the night. But he wanted to go home and sleep with his dog,” Menter says.
Menter says Mark walked out his front door at 4:30, headed home to see his new German shepherd puppy. His home on Lyon Road was a little more than two miles away. The journey would require him to walk 1.6 miles on Route 2, a distance that wasn’t unusual for him to do.
Mark should have arrived home by 5 a.m. Instead, his body was found about 90 minutes later on Brown Road, 69 feet east of Lyon Road, 12 feet off the roadway.
Dr. Harry Mignerey, the then-Lucas County coroner, placed the time of death as 4:30.
It was a rare murder in eastern Lucas County. The brutality of it was even more unusual.
But four days later, the most brutal crime spree in northwestern Ohio would begin. It started with a murder eerily similar to Mark's.