While there is no excuse for taking a life, people who are driven to murder usually have some reason they believe justifies the sickening violence.
So when police began an investigation into a murder, they started looking for someone who might have a reason to want the victim dead. Strangely, they found no suspects and no possible motive for the kind, law-abiding citizen. It wasn’t until 6 months later, however, that they realized they were dealing with a tragic case of mistaken identity…
On an early morning in May 2006, an Ohio-native living in Burton Township, Ohio with his girlfriend was preparing for a move together to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The man worked in horticulture and decided to make the move after he was offered a new job.
The New Job
“He moved his furniture up there already,” the man’s father explained. “He was going to run a greenhouse for another company.” Unfortunately, however, the couple would never be able to make the move from Ohio to Michigan as they planned…
The Armed Intruder
While the couple was getting ready to start their day, an armed man wearing a ski mask and camouflage clothing broke into their home. With a shotgun in hand, the intruder shouted at the couple to be quiet and instructed the young woman to lay down on the ground.
After she got down on the floor, the intruder used duct tape to bind the young man’s hands together, however, he managed to break free and attacked the intruder. The 2 men fought for a few minutes before the intruder managed to grab his shotgun and shot his victim in the chest…
A Deadly Shot
After the intruder fled the scene, the woman called 911 right away and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Daniel Ott, was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Unfortunately, the doctors were unable to save him and the 31-year-old passed away at the hospital that morning.
The Investigation Begins
The news rocked the area, which was normally extremely safe and hadn’t had a homicide in 6 years. Police immediately opened an investigation to figure out who the armed intruder was, but the more they dug, the less the case made sense…
According to the police, they followed their usual procedures for investigating a homicide. However, the armed intruder didn’t try to rob the couple and never took anything. There was no sign of forced entry, which signaled to police that the man had been hired to kill Daniel.
Retracing Daniel’s Steps
Investigators retraced Daniel’s steps and looked at his activities and the people he associated with to try and find a possible suspect and a possible motive for someone to want Daniel dead. However, police failed to find anything…
The thing that didn’t make any sense to police was that there were no shady characters in Daniel’s life and he was a kind, law-abiding citizen. According to police, Daniel worked at a greenhouse nursery and lived a quiet life with his girlfriend.
6 Months Later
For months, the police worked tirelessly to solve the case, but time passed with no new information or leads. It wasn’t until about 6 months after the investigation began that detectives realized the real reason Daniel had been the target that morning…
A Mistaken Identity
The only reason the 31-year-old was killed was because of his name. According to police, a hitman had been hired that morning to kill Daniel Ott, however, the killer got the wrong man. The hitman was really meant to kill another man by the same name.
The Other Daniel Ott
The other Daniel Ott had helped police bring down Joseph Rosebrook (pictured above), the leader of a stolen car ‘chop shop’ operation as well as an organized crime group that specialized in witness intimidation. Police believed the hitman had really been hired to kill him but got mixed up and killed an innocent man with the same name…
Proving The Theory
However, now police had to prove their theory, which was harder and more time-consuming than it had been to figure out the mistaken identity mixup. For the next 8 year, detectives refused to give up solving the case and building a case against those responsible.
‘They Will Kill Me’
The main reason it took so long was because anyone who knew anything about Rosebrook refused to tell the police anything out of fear that they would be killed. “Many people we would approach and engage in conversation said, ‘I know what you want; they will kill me,’” Geauga County Sheriff Daniel C. McClelland explained…
“They were very intimidated,” Sheriff McClelland said. Yet the investigators never gave up on the case. “Detectives have worked tirelessly on the case since 2006,” Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz said. “It was never a closed case. They pursued suspects throughout Ohio and the United States.”
The Real Target
8 years later, police learned that the Daniel Ott who was the real target of the hit had originally been hired by Rosebrook to kill an associate he feared was going to testify against him. However, Ott went to the police and helped them send the organized crime leader to jail…
Rosebrook was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and during that time he hired another man, Chad South, who he met in prison to kill Ott for turning on him. After South was released from prison, Rosebrook’s brother, Carl Rosebrook, handled the payments to South to carry out the hit.
Detectives performed wiretaps, dozens of interviews, got the help of state investigators and got countless search warrants to finally build their case and prove their theory. 9 long years later, the police arrested the 3 men and charged them for the murder of 31-year-old Daniel Ott…
“It was the reckless vendetta of the defendant who caused all of this, who caused the death of an innocent man,” Geauga County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Driscoll said during the trial. In 2016, Joseph Rosebrook, Carl Rosebrook, and Chad South were all found guilty and sentenced to prison for a variety of conviction including aggravated murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.
Justice Is Finally Served
“He was a son, a brother, a caring and compassionate friend who was taken too soon from his family and friends. It has been a long 9 years of waiting and hoping for some resolution to this horrific crime and our patience has paid off,” Leroy and Linda Ott, Daniel’s parents, said after the trial. “We’re so happy with this verdict,” Leroy added. “People in this community — the detectives, the courts, everybody — worked so damn hard and this family was shown a lot of love and support from this community. They went above and beyond. What more can you say? It’s not going to bring Dan back. We won’t ever have closure; I think about him every day. But we got justice and Dan would be happy.”