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Updated: 4:49 p.m. Sunday, June 3, 2012 | Posted: 8:07 a.m. Sunday, June 3, 2012

Missing Preble man was shot to death

Bobby Joe Grubbs found a few feet from where he was dropped off


Bobby Joe Grubbs photo
Authorities are searching for Bobby Joe Grubbs, 31, who went missing while hiking outside New Paris.
Cause of death released in Preble homicide photo
Joseph M. Kutter, 78 was arrested on suspicion of murder June 2 by the Preble County Sheriff's Office.

Staff Report


Bobby Joe Grubbs died from a gunshot wound and his body was found a few feet from where he was dropped off by his mother, the Preble County Sheriff's Office announced Monday.

The announcement comes after deputies arrested Joseph Merle Kutter, 78, Saturday on a possible murder charge.

Grubbs' body was found in a shallow grave that day with the help of cadaver dogs, said Sheriff Mike Simpson.

Authorities obtained a search warrant for the Kutter house and evidence was found linking the property owner to the homicide, Simpson said.

Grubbs, 31, was reported missing by family members on May 26. He was last seen when his mother dropped him off on Fleenor Road, a dead end southeast of New Paris adjacent to the Kutter property.

Family members said Grubbs was in the area to search for ginseng plants, but never emerged from the woods. His aunt, B.J. Phillips, said the situation will have a rippling effect on the family. Grubbs leaves a 9-year-old son and a 6-month-old daughter.

“There’s no closure,” she said. “He’s gone and he has two children. The baby will never know her father.”

“This Mr. Kutter, if he’s the one that did this, he has destroyed many, many lives,” she said. “He has destroyed my sister’s life, he’s destroyed my niece and he’s destroyed everybody’s life because he took Bobby Joe’s life.”

Approximately 40 people — made up of law enforcement personnel, Preble County CERT volunteers and members of the Buckeye Search and Rescue Team — searched for Grubbs.

The search “covered several parcels of land,” according to the sheriff’s office.

While Grubbs was reported missing May 26, two calls were made to 911 from his cell phone, but there was no voice on the other end, according to authorities.

Simpson said his office was able to determine that Grubbs’ cell phone is somewhere on the property, but searches turned up nothing.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was used in search efforts the day after Grubbs disappeared.

Court records showed that Grubbs had a criminal record and had spent time in prison. He had a pending case that involved a charge of breaking and entering in Preble County and authorities said he faced additional prison time because of it.

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