PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- Shock and sadness are hitting hard for loyal friends and customers of a popular long-time Northeast Ohio business owner who was found dead inside his home.
Painesville police, homicide detectives and state investigators converged on a century-old home on Mentor Avenue Saturday to collect potential evidence.
Police said they were called to check on the man who lived there Saturday morning, because he couldn’t be reached. When officers arrived on scene they reportedly found the body of a man inside the house.
He has been identified as 65-year-old Tim Meola of Painesville.
Police sources told the I-TEAM the death appears to be the result of foul play.
Now, Meola's neighbors say they are shaken by the news.
“This is sad and scary because was it random. Did it get broken into? That would be horrible to think about something awful like that,” said a neighbor who did not want to be identified.
Longtime friends, like Eli Kalil, said Meola was a loyal and proud Northeast Ohio resident and business owner.
"Tim was extremely loyal and an outgoing person and friend of the entire community," Kalil said. "Everyone knew that if they needed something, Tim would answer the call. He was extremely passionate about the community and would do whatever he could to make sure the Ashtabula community thrived."
Ashtabula County residents Sarah Van Sickle and her husband Bobby are about to celebrate their third wedding anniversary. Meola, who owned, the long standing Meola’s Catering and Guyreino’s Deli in Ashtabula catered their wedding.
“This is so sad to hear about. He was professional, pleasant, and very nice,” Sarah said.
“Tim was top notch, professional, always joking. He was just a real good guy to work with. He went above and beyond for customers and friends,” Bobby said.
Meola owned his long time catering service and deli in Ashtabula since 1973. He’s also a graduate of Kent State University.
Painesville police are looking for Meola’s gray 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee with Ohio plates GWC-1718. They said it was stolen from his residence.
Anyone with information about this case, or the stolen Jeep, is asked to contact Painesville police at (440) 392-5840.