Neighbors shocked after crash leads to murder charge

UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) - People in Union Township say they are shocked and devastated after a crash investigation turns into a homicide investigation.

According to police, 52-year-old Samantha Freels drove off the road shortly after 3 p.m. Friday at West State Route 55 and Elleman Road in Union Township. First responders found her dead at the scene with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Authorities in Miami County have charged the victim's husband, 57-year-old Randy Freels, with murder. He is currently being held in the Miami County Jail, according to officials.

Authorities took him into custody after learning he told someone he expected to be in a shootout with law enforcement, according to the Miami County Sheriff's Office. Investigators also found out he had a large number of firearms at his home, police said.

"It's just a sad situation," said one woman who lives in the area.

The woman, who asked 2 NEWS not to show her face on-camera, said she is shocked something like this would happen in her quiet, rural community.

"We talk to the neighbors when they're out, and just everybody minds their own business," she said.

Police have searched the couple's home on South Rangeline Road, as well as the car the victim was driving and a blue Dodge pickup truck registered to the Freels that went off the road near the scene, according to the Miami County Sheriff's Office.

Preliminary autopsy results show Samantha Freels died of the gunshot wound to the chest, according to officials. Authorities said they believe she was shot shortly before she crashed.

Despite the incident, people we spoke with who live nearby said they do not feel less safe.

"I think everybody kind of watches out for each other as a general rule," a woman said. "But I don't feel unsafe."

Randy Freels also faces charges of inducing panic and leaving the scene of a crash, police said.

Investigators with the Miami County Sheriff's Office are asking anyone who may have seen the two vehicles around the time of the crash to give them a call at 937-440-9911.

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