The Murder of Shannon Graves

Shannon Graves

In 2016, Arturo Novoa killed, Shannon Graves, with a hammer. He and his new girlfriend dismembered and dissolved her body.

Background

Arturo Novoa and Shannon Graves met in April 2016. Their relationship turned romantic, and they moved into a home on Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. Novoa was abusive towards Shannon and their relationship ended in December 2916. Novoa then moved out of the apartment he shared with Shannon and moved in with Katrina Layton. A week later, Novoa would move back to Shannon’s.

The Murder

On February 24, 2017, things turned violent between the couple. Novoa beat Shannon to death with a hammer in their bedroom.

Novoa called Layton for help in getting rid of the evidence. Novoa first shaved Shannon’s head. Then the pair wrapped her body in several garbage bags, placed her remains in his car’s trunk, and drove to Layton’s house.

Getting Rid of Evidence

A friend of Novoa, Andrew Herrmann, agreed to help dismember Shannon’s body in the garage. They removed her arms, legs, and head, and put the body parts in storage bins. Sometime between March 1 and March 17, 2017, Shannon’s remains were brought back to the apartment she shared with Novoa and placed in a freezer.

On March 1, 2017, Novoa asked a friend who lived on Sherwood Avenue if he could have a bonfire at his house, which the friend agreed to. Novoa and Layton brought Shannon’s belongings, including her hair, to place in the fire. The following day, the Sherwood Avenue residents went through the fire pit; they found it odd that Novoa and Layton were placing things from a tote bag into the fire. They found a bracelet that said the name “Shannon” on it. They dug the rest of the ashes out of the pit.

Novoa and Layton then ordered an “in-store pickup” of 12 gallons of sulfuric acid through Walmart. When placing the order, they used the alias “Chicken Man”. The Walmart employee would not release the purchase until she saw identification. Layton showed her ID and used her own credit card to pay for the sulfuric acid. They drove back to the Mahoning Avenue address, where Shannon’s body was.

Novoa and Layton poured the sulfuric acid into the container they held Shannon’s torso and head. All of Shannon’s torso and had dissolved expect for a portion of her skull. They put the piece of skull, along with her arms and legs, into the freezer.

For the next few months, Layton would live in the apartment Novoa shared with Shannon. She cared for her dog, used her phone and her credit cards.

Missing Peron’s Report

On June 22, 2017, Shannon’s half-sister, Debbie DePaul, reported Shannon missing to the Youngstown Police Department. Debbie stated it was not unusual to go long periods without speaking, but when Shannon missed her birthday and Easter, she became worried. Debbie and Shannon’s ex-fiancé searched for Shannon. Once Novoa found out that police and family were looking for Shannon, he rented out a new apartment on Ravenwood Avenue and bought a new freezer. He used Shannon’s car to move her remains to the freezer in the apartment on Ravenwood Avenue. He left the apartment empty, with only the freezer, the warranty booklet for the freezer, and a black suitcase.

The police had got a search warrant for the apartment on Mahoning Avenue, where Shannon had lived. This made Novoa nervous. He called a friend and asked if he could store his freezer of meat at his house, because the power went out in his apartment. His friend agreed. Novoa and two friends helped him move the freezer one night around 3:00 a.m.

Remains Found

The wife of the friend who was storing the “freezer of meat” decided to take a piece of meat out for dinner. The court documents state there was a lock on the freezer, but it was installed upside down, which made it open easily. Inside, she found a black bag and called her husband. He came home and opened the bag to find Shannon’s remains. They contacted authorities.

House where freezer with reamins was found

Investigation

In the home Shannon shared with Novoa, police found a meat cleaver, blood on the walls, and an owner’s manual to the freezer Shannon was found in.

In the freezer, Shannon’s arms and legs were found along with pieces of spine, skull, and some teeth.

During the investigation, it would be revealed that Herrmann’s girlfriend lied to the grand jury and tried to scare a witness who was providing the police with information. She was arrested for her involvement.

Court Proceedings

Arturo Novoa

On September 17, 2017, Novoa was arrested and charged with 1 count of aggravated murder, 1 count of murder, 24 counts of tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and 6 counts of abuse of a corpse, 3 counts of possession of criminal tools, 3 counts theft of WIC benefits, 1 count of grand theft auto, 4 counts of drug trafficking (marijuana). On August 30, 2017, Novoa was indicted on all charges.

Novoa accepted a plea. In exchange for dismissing the aggravated murder charge, he would plead guilty to all other charges.

On June 24, 2019, he was sentenced to a total of 48 years to life in prison.

Novoa filed an appeal on September 30, 2021, stating his guilty plea should be considered invalid because he was not informed a judge could rule the sentences for each count be served consecutively. He also made the argument that the counts were not merged properly, which resulted in more convictions between them, was legally possible.

On October 1, 2021, the supreme court agreed in part with Novoa. They upheld his guilty plea, but they found the trial court had made an error upon sentencing, stating some of the counts were not merged properly. Novoa’s sentence was vacated and sent back to the state court for re-sentencing.

In February 2022, he was re-sentenced to 43 years to life.

Katrina Layton

Katrina Layton was charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and abuse of a corpse. She originally made a deal with the prosecution for no jail time and probation. New prosecutors that took over the case were able to show that Layton was still communicating with Novoa while he was in prison and had her deal revoked. She was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Andrew Herrmann

Andrew Herrmann was charged with abuse of a corpse, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 12 years.

Michelle Ihlenfeld

Michelle Ihlenfeld was charged with lying to a grand jury and intimidating a witness. She received 2.5 years in prison. Upon release, she will have to spend 6 months in a halfway house and 5 years of probation.

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