Chilling Phone Call Preceded Disappearance of Cedar Rapids Native in Ohio
By Jeff Raasch, Reporter
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Two people have been arrested in connection with the death of a Cedar Rapids native whose body was found dumped in an Ohio gravel pit.
Curtis G. Miller, 38, was found dead June 10 in the remote area near Cedarville, Ohio. On Monday, police arrested his former girlfriend, Jody S. Apone, 36, and Apone’s brother, Randall E. Smith, 43, both of Springfield, Ohio.
According to court documents, Smith is accused of striking Miller repeatedly in the head and body in a garage behind a residence in Springfield, causing injuries that resulted in Miller’s death, sometime between May 26 and June 10. Police said Apone and Smith wrapped Miller’s body in a tarp and dumped the body at the gravel pit about 30 minutes away.
When a detective called Miller’s mother, Sandy Myers, of Algona, Iowa, to tell her about the arrests, she said, “I knew it, I knew it.”
In an interview Wednesday with The Gazette, Myers recalled a chilling phone conversation she had with Apone on April 30. She said Apone was upset that Miller did not answer her phone call.
“She called me and said, ‘He’s going down. My family takes care of me, and he’s going down,’” Myers said. “I said, ‘What do you mean? You’re going to kill my son?’ and she said, ‘No, ma’am – she always called me ma’am – there are other ways of going down. But my brother will take care of me.’
“This was a month beforehand. This was premeditated.”
Myers said her son told her Apone had kicked him out of the house they shared the day of the phone call. She said she last heard from her son via text message, when he said he was going back to the house for his dog. She told him to be careful.
Smith has been charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, according to court documents. Apone faces charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Miller grew up in Cedar Rapids and attended Metro High School before moving to Algona in 2003. A father to seven children, he had just ended a relationship when he became reacquainted with Apone and moved with her to Ohio two years ago, Myers said.
The two had started an animal rescue business together, of which Miller spoke about often, his family said.
“He would have given you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” Myers said. “He would stop what he was doing and help you if he could.”
Myers said there were signs that her son’s relationship with Apone was deteriorating. After some arguments, Apone would call Myers. Before he went missing, Miller told his mother he was coming back to Algona, saying, “I’ve had enough of this.”
“Why didn’t she just let him leave?” Myers said.
At a news conference Tuesday, Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody said Apone was one of the first people interviewed by detectives. He would not discuss possible motives in the case.
Police said Smith and Apone cleaned the garage in Springfield after Miller’s body was discovered in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Smith remained in custody Wednesday, in lieu of $500,000 bond. A spokeswoman at the Clark County, Ohio jail said Apone was expected to be released on bond Wednesday.
If the case goes to trial, Myers said she plans to attend.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Myers said. “There’s no closure yet. I don’t know if there ever will be. I don’t understand why they did this to my son.”
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