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Sheriff commits to reopening Clarke-Straub murder investigation, families say

Toledo Cares offers new evidence and resources in 2011 case.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Lucas County Sheriff Mike Navarre has reached out to the families of Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub, telling them that he is committed to getting justice for the couple, who were murdered in 2011, families of the couple said.

And Friday night, a community group has confirmed that it is now involved in the 2011 murder investigation, which was the focus of a three-night 11 Investigates series last week.

Toledo Cares is representing the Clarke and Straub families and working with police to bring justice for Straub and Clarke, who were murdered on Jan. 30, 2011. The group is preparing to turn over new evidence in the case to investigators. Though it is considered an open investigation, it has not been actively investigated in recent years. 11 Investigates found that no evidence has been submitted to the state for testing since 2013.

But on Friday evening, family members said Sheriff Mike Navarre called the families to tell them that he is making it an open investigation in hopes of finally obtaining justice.

The developments follow the televised series last week into the 2011 murders. Clarke and Straub were found dead by Clarke's father in the Holland kitchen of the Straub home. They were duct-taped and bags were taped around their heads. Sam Williams was convicted in 2012. He has maintained his innocence, but investigators believe many people were involved. As many as six sets of unknown DNA were found in the home.

Toledo Cares, led by Manuel Gonzales, is a pro-police organization that has been active in the Toledo community for the past seven decades. Its local and national connections bring a wealth of new resources to one of the most high-profile murder investigations in Lucas County history. Additional investigators will be brought into the case, if needed, and the group is making a push for additional DNA testing on the unknown profiles found inside the home, something that Sheriff Navarre has committed to doing.

"We are fighting for justice for Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub. There were many others involved and new evidence will bring them to justice," Gonzales said. "This is not just right for the families, but it's what's best for the communities that these suspects live in. Murderers live among us."

The DNA of Williams and Cameo Pettaway was found on a cigarette inside the home. Pettaway was acquitted in 2012 after Judge James Bates said anyone could have planted the cigarette in the home. The additional DNA was found on duct tape around Clarke's ankles, his neck, inside his sweatpants, and on his phone's key pad and battery.

On Friday, 11 Investigates published a story after an interview with Tiffany Williams. She was the last person to talk to Clarke on the phone and said she is willing to cooperate with police in a new investigation.