More indictments in 2017 freezer murder case

By Joe Gorman


An indictment issued Thursday said the body of a woman found in a freezer last summer had been cut up and dissolved in acid before it was found.

A Mahoning County grand jury indicted Arturo Novoa, 32, of Mahoning Avenue; Andrew Herr-mann, 27, of Francisca Avenue; and Michelle Lee Ihlenfeld, 27, also of Francisca Avenue; on 48 counts relating to the death of Shannon Elizabeth Graves.

Novoa already faces an aggravated-murder charge in the death of Graves.

Hermann and Ihlenfeld, along with Novoa, face counts of tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, possession of criminal tools, theft of WIC program benefits, intimidation, obstruction of justice, grand theft of a motor vehicle, drug trafficking and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Although they have different last names, the indictment said Hermann and Ihlenfeld are married.

The three are accused of killing Graves some time around Feb. 24, 2017. Her body was found last July in a freezer in a home in Campbell.

The indictment says Novoa killed Graves and the other two, along with Novoa, lied to police, mutilated her body, used her WIC card after she died, used her car, sold jewelry belonging to Graves, and burned identification documents belonging to her.

The indictment also lists a Jane Doe as helping to get rid of Graves’ body and two John Does for taking part as well.

Katrina Layton, 34, who was originally arrested with Novoa last year after Graves’ body was found, pleaded guilty earlier this year in common pleas court to reduced charges in exchange for testifying against Novoa. She is free on bond.

When the two were arraigned in municipal court, city prosecutors said Layton had assumed the identity of Graves, who was once Novoa’s girlfriend. Layton lived in the Mahoning Avenue apartment Graves had shared with Novoa and used Graves’ phone, credit cards and car. She also cared for Graves’ dog.

The freezer in which the body was found was being kept at a home on East Ravenwood Avenue on the South Side, even though the couple did not live there. Novoa moved the freezer to the home of a friend in Campbell after the home on East Ravenwood was experiencing electrical problems.

Novoa’s friends found the remains in the freezer while getting ready to make dinner and called police. They are not suspects and have cooperated with authorities.

The indictment said that Herrmann and Novoa cut off Graves’ arms and legs, placed her dismembered body in plastic bags and put those bags in a freezer.

Novoa then ordered sulfuric acid from the Boardman Walmart using the name “chickenman.” He and another person – not named by the grand jury – placed the dismembered torso and head of Graves in a tub and filled the tub with acid, which dissolved all but the jaw, teeth, neck and spine.

Novoa then dumped the liquid remains in a plastic bag and put that bag in a freezer, the indictment said.

On March 1, 2017, Novoa and Herrmann then burned Graves’ body in a bonfire that got so large the city fire department was called. Herr- mann and a Jane Doe then placed more remains in a freezer. Novoa and a Jane Doe then bought a second freezer from the Boardman Walmart and took it to a home in Youngstown. Two people unknowingly took the freezer for Novoa after he complained of an electrical problem at the Youngstown location and moved it to the home in Campbell, where it was found.

Ihlenfeld was charged by the grand jury with threatening someone between Aug. 13 and Aug. 15 of this year.

Herrmann and Ihlenfeld are not yet in custody.