Accident or homicide? A grand jury will decide. Friends say Thomas M. Campbell Sr. of Sandusky died after he accidentally tumbled down a flight of stairs, but a coroner has ruled his death a homicide.
Campbell died on Jan. 12 -- his 59th birthday -- at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo. The night before his death, Campbell was with friends at a Cement Street home when he fell down the steps and hit his head on the concrete floor, Castalia police Chief Ken Majoy said.
Police initially thought the death was accidental, but the investigation took a turn after more information broke in the case. A Lucas County coroner ruled Campbell's death a homicide caused by head trauma, Majoy said.
"We found some circumstances we weren't comfortable with," he said.
No one has been charged, but police have suspects, Majoy said. The findings will be turned over to an Erie County grand jury for review and possible charges, he said.
Meanwhile rumors have begun to circulate in town.
"They're saying they got into an argument, and he was pushed," said neighbor Debbie McPeak.
McPeak said she doesn't believe it happened that way.
"(Campbell) was getting ready to leave, opened the door and fell down the steps," she said.
Majoy said people at the apartment had been drinking alcohol that night. When police arrived just after 8 p.m., Campbell was found lying at the bottom of the steps, he said.
"He was a great friend," said John Brownell, who lives at the apartment where the incident happened. "It was just a tragic accident. We were like brothers."
Brownell said he and Campbell had been friends for about 15 years, and his family is torn up over the event.
"We're having a hard time," he said.
No one answered the door Wednesday afternoon at Campbell's Perry Street home. Downstairs neighbor Mignon Collier described Campbell as "nice and friendly."
Majoy declined to release any details surrounding the questionable death. The case remains under investigation.
The final autopsy report on Campbell has not been completed. Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said the report would be necessary before discussing what charges could result.
Majoy said this is the first homicide he's seen in Castalia during his eight years as chief.