POMEROY, OH — Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against an Ohio man in order to allow murder charges against him to go forward.
Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, Ohio, alleged killed Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes last month, not long after the Kanawha County teenager was reported missing. He’s been charged with the death in Meigs County, Ohio. Brown’s body was found along the Ohio River Aug. 30.
Roach was charged with a federal crime for traveling across state lines to have sex with Brown. Investigators said he answered a Craigslist ad posted by Brown.
Federal prosecutors dropped the charge Tuesday to allow the murder charge to go forward “without delay.”
Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams told MetroNews Tuesday the decision came after several days of discussions.
“They’ve (federal prosecutors) been very helpful and cooperative with me,” she said. “Murder being the higher charge allows me to prosecute him first in Ohio.”
Roach remains in the South Central Regional Jail. He has an extradition hearing scheduled in Kanawha County Circuit Court for next Monday.
Prosecutor Williams said she has the option of taking the murder charge against Roach directly to a grand jury. The next grand jury meeting in Meigs County is set for Friday. She said a decision had been made but she couldn’t speak to it.
“I’m not allowed to comment on cases that may or may not go before that grand jury,” she said.
Police have said Roach claims to have first met Brown in July after answering a Craigslist ad. In a videotaped confession, Roach claimed he then picked up Brown in Cross Lanes on Aug. 9, took her to Ravenswood and paid her $25 to have sex again. Cell phone records put the two in Ravenswood on the morning of Aug. 10 — the same day Brown was first reported missing.
Brown’s body was found along the Ohio River wrapped in a plastic tarp and tied to a cement block the same day Roach was picked up as a person of interest in her disappearance.