BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – On Wednesday, divers searched Berlin Lake, where an Akron man’s body was found Saturday. However, they didn’t find anything useful in solving the case during their search.
Investigators now believe 60-year-old Robert Lee Johnson was killed, according to Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene, and that his body was dumped in the lake.
Two fishermen found Johnson around 6 a.m. Saturday. They told detectives they thought they hit a stump with moss covering it while fishing but looked closer and saw it was a head with long hair.
Johnson was found about 30 to 40 feet from the shore, floating in about eight feet of water. Major Jeff Allen, with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, said they found some items that belonged to Johnson on the causeway.
“We are diving near where his property was found to see if we can recover anything to give us some clues about where he was or what he was doing there,” Allen said.
Friends of Johnson told police he liked to fish but usually went to Summit Lake in Akron.
Piecing together the story has also been confusing for investigators. Johnson was from Akron. He has acquaintances in Portage County, and his body was found in Mahoning County.
“We have talked to several people trying to identify why he would be at the Berlin Lake,” Allen said. “Nobody can confirm that he was ever here fishing before but people around Berlin did identify his picture as someone they recognize as a fisherman here.”
A coroner looked at Johnson’s body and thinks at one point, he was hit by a boat. The coroner said Johnson also had injuries not related to that.
Allen said the coroner’s report was vital in helping them know what to look for in the water.
“It is ruled a homicide. I’m not going to say how he died. I am not ready at this time,” Allen said.
Because Johnson’s story covers a wide area, investigators are working together to find more information. Akron City Police and the Portage County Sheriff’s Office are involved in the investigation.
“We were with them for quite a bit this last week and they’re willing to help in any way they can,” Allen said.
Police are assessing the situation and have not determined if they will send dive teams into the water again on Thursday.