Police arrest, charge three suspects in linked Middletown homicides

Police eliminating suspects in arson-homicide
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 12:31:45-05

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- After an "extensive investigation," police Thursday arrested three suspects in two connected homicides, including one in which the victim’s body was found inside her burning home.

Doug Best, 28, stands charged with two counts of aggravated murder, aggravated arson and kidnapping for participating in Nov. 4 murder of Joe Romano and the Nov. 5 murder of Tiffany Hoskins, according to a news release from the Middletown Police Department.

“We are hoping this brings some closure and relief to the families of this victims,” the release reads. “Our thoughts go out to them, and we will continue to work hard to bring justice for these horrible crimes against our community."

Police would not tell the Journal-News how the two deaths are related.

On Nov. 4, police responded to 1517 Lafayette Ave. and found Romano fatally shot inside the kitchen of the home.

Romano was found about 8 a.m. by two people described by police as housemates. His death was ruled a homicide by the Butler County Coroner’s Office, who said Romano died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Romano’s two housemates — Doug Hobbs and Paige Morris — were charged last month with obstructing official business for allegedly not being truthful in their statements to detectives at the beginning of the investigation, police said.

Less than 24 hours later, the body of Tiffany Hoskins was found inside a home at 1507 Jacoby Ave. that caught fire.

Firefighters found flames shooting from the second floor of the home when they arrived at about 4:20 a.m. Nov. 5 After being told the home was vacant and fighting the blaze for about 1o minutes, firefighters found Hoskins’ body at the top of the home’s stairway.

Hoskins had a gunshot wound to the head, Middletown police confirmed Thursday.

Her family previously said Hoskins was dead before the blaze started.

After an investigation, police served four search warrants Thursday at several residences in the city. Search warrants also were served on two Mercedes Benz vehicles in Butler County as part of an ongoing investigation, according to police.

Tina Payne, Hoskins’ sister, said Thursday that she thinks about the final moments of Tiffany’s life every day.

"My poor mother couldn’t even look at her and say goodbye to her," Payne said. "That’s one of the hardest things of all. Evil is all I can think of -- I can’t imagine anyone doing that to someone. What could she have done for them to hurt her life that?"

Detectives also charged Derrick Brown, 22, and Charles Ray Graham, 27, on two counts of aggravated murder, aggravated arson and kidnapping. Brown was also charged with drug abuse.

The Journal-News contributed to this report.