The Murder of the Boy: Archived Images from the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Call it morbid fascination, but I’ve been poring through a a trove of material that my wife Lynne dug up years ago when she worked at the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library.  When I was eight years old, my best friend Cremer was murdered by Mariann Colby, the mother of my other best friend Dane. Needless to say, it kicked off a very messed up period in my life. Lynne, who is quite a researcher, delved into this topic this about 25 years ago when we were dating. As she had access to tons of library resources she requested microfilm from the Plain Dealer Archives (not sure which institution stores them). Of course, back in those days one printed Microfiche onto thermal paper, so all of the pages were  much like a paper based negative.

So, I fired up the scanner a few weeks back and started to process the images. I started off with a Cremer’s picture which appears to be a either a standard “portrait” done by a photo studio or perhaps an photo touched up by the newspaper’s photo department.  The picture of Mariann looks like it was taken outside of the courtroom, her expression quite disturbing. I do remember being disturbed by the fact that my name wasn’t in the paper. It wasn’t until later, after Mariann’s arrest, I realized how close I came to being with Cremer on the day he was murdered.

I’ve added to the mix photos of other murdered children that were part of a companion article on Child Killers. Didn’t get the entire article, so I had to look up the names of the children to get more information. I was surprised to find out that Beverly Jarosz’s murder is still unsolved.

Once again, kudos to Lynne for digging up this information. There doesn’t seem to be much of any information about Cremer Young on the web. In this day & age information like this is quite incendiary; I’m certain that Nancy Grace would’ve hounded Mrs. Colby to no end.

64 thoughts on “The Murder of the Boy: Archived Images from the Cleveland Plain Dealer”

  1. Growing up, I lived three doors down from the Youngs, and in fact babysat for the Young children and Dane Colby. Cremer and his brother MacKenzie used to cut through our back yard. On the day Cremer disappeared the police came to the door asking if anyone had seen him. From the kitchen window I remembered seeing a little tow-headed boy; from a distance Cremer and his brother closely ressembled each other. I remember the haunting feeling of trying to recall which one I had seen, of everyone being under suspicion, of the street being closed to traffic and the sewer being dredged for a weapon and finally of Nancy and John’s car pulling into their driveway as the neighbors kept vigil. I can still feel the inadequacy of that moment when there were no words to describe or express the pain I knew they were feeling. In my mind’s eye, the memory of that event draws me back to that summer n 1965 and those good people who suffered such an incomprehensible loss. Though far from Shaker Heights and my home on Warrington Road, I often think of them and wonder how they ever recovered. It is inconceivable that Mariann Colby virtually walked away from what I believe was a completely cold-blooded premeditated murder, serving only four years in a state mental hospital. Where was justice on that infamous day?

  2. Just visited Cleveland last week, only the third time since my family moved away in the late 60’s. Last time I visited I stopped by St. paul’s Episcopal church to view the stained glass window dedicated to him.
    Did you know Jane Galbreath? I think that was her name growing up. She was another of the Youngs neighbors, and coincidentally, we wound up working together in the 90’s.

    I’ve often wondered what happened to Mackenzie; I heard that Nancy Young passed away recently.

  3. I lived @3168 Warrington rd . Directly across from Mrs Goodman who lived between Cremer and Mrs.Colby.I was friends with Cremer and the other kids and can remember riding around their basement in this big cloth like laundry basket. I used to go sledding with Cremer over by Woodbury Jr High where Cremer went into the creek once. I fell in once but not while sledding. I also remember Cremers birthday party at @ Horseshoe Lake where Dane started throwing hot dogs into the lake because they were burnt Mr. Young was quite upset. We were on vacation when it all happened about 70 miles away. My father bought a paper and came back to the cottage and wouldnt let me see it. Somehow I saw it. I went upstairs in the cottage and tried hard not to cry but couldnt hold back the tears. We returned home that afternoon. In the week that followed my folks decided to go car shopping at the old Shaker Ford on Lee Rd. I dont know where my older sisters were and the fact they hadnt caught Mrs Colby yet and my folks probably thought there was a nut on the loose I had to go to Mrs.Colbys house and play with Dane while they were looking for cars. This part I will never forget even though I didnt remember until about 11 years later when I was 19 working in an Emergency room in Fla. I was standing in the kitchen with Dane they had a two part kitchen one part had the table.We were by the table on the left side as you face the back yard I looked at the old pebble pattern white linolium floor and saw a pinkish stain. I believe Dane or somebody told me it was a ketchup stain.Then we went up to Danes bedroom and Dane started asking me or insinuating that I was glad Cremer had passed away.I remember thinking that was really weird. But I wasnt friends with Dane and only knew he was a little challanged and had been held back in school. Then they caught Mrs.Colby and my mother was interviewed by I think channel 3 What she said I dont know. We moved to Chagrin in 1969 where I had a Plain Dealer route. The only headlines I remember seeing while I was a paperboy was Jimi Hendrix passing. And those fools letting Mrs Colby out of Lima State in I believe1970 . I saw Cremers folks between 5 to10 years ago with my wife at the old White Elephant sale they used to have by the playhouse on Euclid Ave. Mrs.Young did pass away on January 9 2010 at the age of 80 Not only as an 8 year old boy and even today I felt sorrow for the Young family but even at 8 I remember feeling bad for Mr Colby he seemed like a nice guy. GOD BLESS CREMER AND HIS FAMILY

  4. Wow… you’ve got some sharp memories! We must’ve played together back in the day. I never saw Dane nor any members of the Colby family after Cremer’s death. My Mom never liked Mrs. Colby. One wonders whatever became of Dane. Ironically, I wound up going to Kenyon College, Mr. Young’s alma mater. Perhaps, if this tragedy had not transpired, I would have been a classmate of Cremer’s there as well. I echo your sentiments about the Young family, and the tragic irony of Mrs. Colby’s ridiculous sentence…

    Sincerely, Tad

  5. I used to play a lot with Keith and Scottie Schultz from Chadbourne. Billy Brown and his sister Robie lived behind me on Chadbourne their father played in the orchestra. Jeff and Mike Bradley and their sister Michelle lived 2 doors down Their father was scout master for troop 106 he worked for TRW as did Mr Colby. Jay Lawson lived at the corner on the other side of Onaway his oid man was superintendent of schools. Do you remember when Steve Froking was sitting on the mail box at the corner of Warrington and Onaway and a car ran into him? Mrs. Youngs obituary said Mackenzie lived in Euclid Oh

  6. Bobby Lane!!!!!!

    Troop 106!!!!!! I too was a good friend of Cremer’s. I remember crying myself to sleep when my parents told me. Since you were out of town, you probably don’t remember the helicopter hovering over the neighborhood constantly supposedly to spook Mrs. Colby. My Mom also didn’t like Mrs. Colby and I was only allowed over to her house once to play with Dane.

    I almost went to Kenyon and Mr Young was disappointed when at the last minute I changed my mind and went to Bucknell. I still have the Christmas Ornament that the Youngs made in Cremer’s memory. ITs the first ornament on the tree every year. Now that I am old and lazy, its the only one I hang. my kids hand the rest.

    Jay Lawson was my best friend once he moved into Shaker in Third Grade. He is now the head basketball coach at Bentley University in Bentley Mass. We used to play basketnball in his back yard all the time with Bobby Stinson, Dave Pennybacker, Steve Gibans and Andy rosen (son of Al Rosen).


    email me at

    Todd Harshman

  7. Boris,

    I came across your article while looking for information on the Collins murders. The Collins twins were my grandmother’s brothers. Your photos are the first evidence i have found online of the story.

    Can you direct me to any information online or physically where i can get more information?



  8. The source I used was from the public library… the images I’ve posted accompanied the article on Cremer’s case. I was able to find some of the information online, as you have. A quick Google search results in the following: “The Killer in the Attic: And More True Tales of Crime and Disaster from Cleveland’s Past” by
    John Stark Bellamy II
    , which is available @ Amazon here. A more in depth search finds references to the following sentence on this page: Henry Hagert, age eighteen, killed Charles and James Collins, twins, “just for the heck of it.” Add Henry Hagert & the Collins Twins on google search and you’ll find this link and Henry’s picture is on this page of Ohio executions: Now that I’ve paired Henry Hagert and The Collins Twins I see more results; here’s a pdf of the Lima News. These links should keep you busy!

  9. Boris, thanks so much for your quick reply. The name of the killer was the missing piece to our puzzle. My mother couldn’t recall the name and we just couldn’t find a name of the killer or an article on the event. Maybe some of our details were wrong.

    You have been a great help! Thank you!

  10. All of the above comments about Cremer’s murder really opened the flood gates of my own memories. Beth was one of my best friends. I went to girl scout camp for 2 weeks and the day that my family came to get me, we had just all piled into the station wagon, my dad hadn’t even pulled out of Juliet Crowe Camp when one of my brother’s started to tell me the horrific news.

    My mom stopped him and then I became upset because I knew something serious and terrible had happened and so then my mom told me. My mom explained that Mrs. Young had gotten a phone call early in the morning (2 days before) from Mrs. Colby who said that she had found Cremer’s jacket and to send him over to get it. As soon as I heard that I emphatically said that she did it. My mom got upset with me and asked why in the world I would say such a horrible thing and she told me not to say it again. She said that she had seen Marianne Colby at the Young’s house just the night before and that she was hugging Mrs. Young. She said that Marianne had come over to the Young’s the last 2 nights in a row and that she was heartbroken about this. But I would NOT back down and insisted that Marianne Colby did it. Then I told them all about the tether ball incident with her and some other examples of her evil rage but no one in my family believed what I said.

    My world was crushed. I went to see Beth early the next morning and stayed all day. I was at her house every day for more than a week and my parents went over every evening to bring supper to them and then to come back to just sit with them as other good friends did. Mrs. Young’s parents were there every day. Beth was the oldest child, then Cremer, Mackenzie who was 5 and Alice who was 2y/o. I remember McKenzie swinging on the swing talking to his baby sister who was asking where Cremer was. McKenzie kept saying: “Cremie all gone, Cremie all gone”. Then McKenzie would ask me where is Cremer? It was a heartbreaking. Before the police proved that Colby had done it I was so afraid that I would not even take a bath alone without my mom staying in the bathroom. It changed my life forever and I was just a kid on the periphery. The murder of Cremer & President Kennedy were the end of my innocence.

    I lived on Aldersyde Dr. but I was often at Beth’s house so I knew Mrs. Colby and I was very afraid of her and I hated her. A few months before the murder a bunch of us were in her backyard playing tether ball with her son Dane. Marianne Colby came outside shrieking at all of us and began beating our legs and backs, arms and head with a big prickly broom. She was whacking us really hard. That was just the latest example of her evil. Actually, she had seen us all playing in the Young’s backyard and had called Mrs. Young and requested that we come over to her yard to play with Dane.

    Previous to this when we had ridden our bikes down the street; she would try to make us crash by sticking a long pole in front of us at the last minute so that you wouldn’t see it coming. That behavior was bizarre enough for me and I had not wanted to play in her backyard but didn’t feel comfortable saying so. But after the broom incident I refused to ever go near her property again. I viewed her as real evil, like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, but instead of a fantasy she was my 1st introduction into real life evil. Her eyes were coal black and cold and empty.

    I also remembered that jacket of Cremer’s. He had gotten it for his 8th Bday in the spring and less than a week later he had lost it. Mr. Young was a real disciplinarian and Cremer had got into a lot of trouble for “losing his new jacket.” Actually, a few weeks after the murder, once the cops proved Colby murdered Cremer it came out that when Cremer had come over to play with Dane in the spring that Mrs. Colby had confiscated his jacket. (Premeditation). I remember that Cremer was real upset that he “lost” his new jacket and Beth and I had helped him look for it to no avail.

    Cremer was a gorgeous child inside and out. Dane was a big boy for his age but he was physically and mentally very awkward. If he lost at any game (which he often did) he became aggressive and would kick, punch, push, shove kids, pull your hair and pinch really hard too and I did not like him. Sometimes we would let him win so that he wouldn’t get mean. Many times he would kick us really hard out of the blue just because he didn’t get his way on something. Years later I realized that he must have been brutalized by his evil mother. I do remember that we could often hear her screaming at him for anything and everything (nothing) and the tirades were brutal. She would say horrible soul killing things to her own handicapped little boy.

    I remember Mr. Colby as a nice guy who spent most of his time at home up in the attic on his ham radio. He was a very quiet man and very passive.

    After she shot Cremer in the back of the head she wrapped him in her coat and drove with Dane in the car to Gates Mills and dumped his body in a very secluded wooded area. She returned home and wrapped the gun in several lbs of ground meat and labeled the package ground meat and popped it in the freezer. Cremer’s body was luckily found about 6PM when a college student was walking his dog and found Cremer. Her post incident behavior clearly indicates that she knew right from wrong and was not insane at the time of the murder.

    The police began to fixate on Colby after the murder. They had intensified the focus and number of interviews with her. She initially tried to pin the murder on Dane and claim that it was an accident! Until a day later when the cops were able to prove that Dane did not have the hand strength to have pulled the trigger. When she was arrested my whole family kept asking me how I knew that she was guilty and I had no better words to explain it other than I just knew. Beth and other friends also wanted to know why I had been sure that she had killed Cremer. I have no better explanation today then I had in 1964. I believe that my internal radar was somehow alerted to her evil. It was a self protective thing maybe?

    Less than a week after the murder I remember McKenzie swinging on the backyard swing talking to his baby sister, Alice, who was asking where Cremer was. McKenzie kept saying: “Cremie all gone, Cremie all gone”. Then McKenzie asked Beth where is Cremer? It was a heartbreaking.

    Before the police proved that Colby had done it I was so afraid that I would not even take a bath alone without my mom staying in the bathroom. It changed my life forever and I was just a kid on the periphery. The murder of Cremer & President Kennedy were the end of my innocence.

    I remember sleeping over at Beth’s house one Friday night about 2 months after the murder. I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard Mr. Young sobbing. It scared me but Beth explained that it happened a lot. Then we heard the back door close. She told me that he walked for hours when this happened. This went on for many many months. I am ashamed to say that it got to the point that I did not want to sleep over at her house anymore because I found it so painful to hear big strapping 6’2” Mr. Young sobbing uncontrollably over Cremer’s murder.

    After the trial Mr. Colby divorced Mariann and moved away with Dane. I have been very angry for my whole life that Mariann Colby got off on a not guilty by reason of insanity. Bullshit. By the legal definition she definitely knew right from wrong and should never have been allowed to plead such a legal defense. A 3 judge panel (paid off I am sure) made the decision to allow that plea. The 3 judge’s also decided the verdict, not a jury of Mariann Colby’s peers. She was in Lima State Hospital for less than 5 years when she was released as “cured” of her mental illness. I have never had complete trust in the justice system since. In this old archived article it states that the staff at Lima State Hospital never believed that she was mentally ill and only kept her confined there for the time that they did due to the high profile of the case. Just appalling.

    TUESDAY. OCTOBER 19, 1971
    Afraid of

    LIMA (AP) — The act-
    ing superintendent of Lima
    State hospital said Monday a
    woman has spent 4 and a half years at
    the institution because the hospital
    was afraid of the publicity
    that would surround action to-
    ward her release,

    An Allen county court has
    taken under advisement the req-
    quest of Marianne Colby, 45, of
    Shaker Heights for release
    from Lima, where she was sent
    after being found innocent by
    |reason of insanity of the murder
    of eight-year-old John Cremer Young,
    the son of a neighbor.

    Theodore Reshetylo, acting
    superintendent of the hospital
    and a psychiatrist, said the hospital
    staff had never considered
    Mrs. Colby insane but would
    not start proceedings until now for her
    release because of the publicity
    surrounding the case.

  11. Thank you, Nancy… I haven’t been updating this page as much as I should. I did some additional digging and see that she is still alive. Possibly living in the Columbus area & remarried. That thought does not comfort me. Dane appears to be living outside of Cleveland… and life goes on.

  12. Hi,

    I am a producer currently researching stories for a second season of a Discovery TV series called A Crime To Remember. You can check out the trailer on the XCON website.

    I am trying to gather source material and find people to interview in the hopes that we could possibly do an episode on Mariann Colby and the tragic murder of your childhood friend Cremer Young.

    Would you be interested and available to talk on the phone in the next few weeks?

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


    Rebecca Morton

  13. My mother Janet Russell was in a babysitting co-op with Mariann Colby. Dane was about my age (maybe 5 or 6) but even at that age I had the sense that Dane may have been developmentally delayed. We learned after the fact that Mariann had registered the gun under the name “Janet Young” (My mother’ first name and Nancy Young’ last name), so we were a bit spooked that Mariann may have originally had two alternate targets (Cremer and me).

    I will elaborate more if I see a response to this message


  14. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner than this… your message got buried in my GMail inbox. Your depiction of Dane jibes with my memory. Surprised your name doesn’t ring a bell… I was a close friend of Cremer’s when I lived on Huntington Blvd. I don’t think we were that close to the Colby’s, probably because we moved to North St. James Blvd shortly after my sisters were born, when I was about 3-4 yrs. old. To this day I can’t comprehend why Dane’s mom would kill Cremer, & I am still shocked by the brevity of her sentence. I often wonder what became of Dane…

  15. Growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio I never forgot the story of young John Cremer Young Jr. and his tragic death. I have read many of the comments today and recognized some of the names mentioned in the comments as I graduated in 1975 from Shaker Heights High School
    I would like if Boris could respond to me. I have a couple of questions about this case. I did read of the passing of Mr. & Mrs. Young in the last few years.

    Thanks so much.

  16. I remember a nice kid named Tad (Merrill, I want to say…) who moved away from Huntington… We lived directly in back of Mrs Goodman, between the Youngs and the Colbys. There are more dark details to this that have never been brought to light. Another sad victim was always going to be Dane Colby, who I believe was a victim of some kind of sexual abuse. Much of his twisted backyard behavior, which my little brothers and sister and I had to witness, was exhibitionist and onanistic in nature. Anyway, I played one of the hand bells (“Dona Nobis Pacem”) donated to Onaway School in Cremer’s memory, in a very solemn memorial concert. There, I have responded, years later. This always bothered me a lot. The worst thing for us is that it never dawned on our 1960’s-era parents or school authorities that kids might need some reassurance, counseling, comforting, after a crazy lady violently murdered one of their playmates a few feet from our backyard, bedrooms, etc….

  17. At some time following the murder, Mr. Colby and Dane moved to Euclid. He was in the Sixth grade at Lincoln Elementary for the 1968-1969 school year. (My family had just moved to Euclid in Feb 1968 so I am not sure how long he had been there).

    I was asked to spend time in the school library helping him with his schoolwork. I believe Dane would today be diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, perhaps having Aspergers. Instead of doing his work he would draw page after page of WW II airplanes, and knew facts about each one. His drawings were amazingly detailed– very good.

    I had absolutely no clue how I was supposed to help him, being 11 years old! The word at school was his mom was going to be released and that is why they had moved, and that his dad was very nice.

  18. Don’t know how many will see this but as found this site way after the fact but I knew Cremer well and remember many of the names that posted and are mentioned. Bobby Lane, we were in Troop 15 together, Todd Harshman I literally minutes ago posted a pic of our 1st grade Onaway class to an Onaway Facebook group! Knew Jay Lawson very well as well as others mentioned. Cremer and I were in Indian Guides together and our families hung out socially.

    I remember the shock of that day, rumors flying around the neighborhood, my Mom desperately finding out where we all were, and of course the headlines. Later in 65 the Young family hand decorated Xmas ornaments to hang and remember Cremer. I still have the one given to our family, it’s always the first one on the tree.

    In the late 60s we moved from Chadbourne between Southington and S Woodland across town to Southington just N of Shaker Blvd and the Youngs moved to the other side of our block on Leighton. We saw them regularly, last time was at a memorial for my own Mom who passed in 2001. As has been noted, Nancy Young passed away a few years ago and John followed her just a couple of years back. Wonderful people.

  19. I lived over on Chadbourne at this time and was very interested in ham radio. Mr. Colby was K8CEZ (I was K8YSO), and he often had me over to his house where I sat up in that attic room and watched him converse on the air with various local hams. He was extremely gentle and nice. He gave me an old antenna tuner that I used for years. One time we had a rat in our house and my dad called Mr. Colby (for some reason), who came over with a rifle of some kind and shot it. I don’t remember anything about Mrs. Colby or Dane. It was quite a shock when this story broke and was then covered extensively for quite awhile. I never saw Mr. Colby again after the incident.

    The references in this thread to “Steve Froking” made me remember my local buddy Chris Frolking (who lived a little way up Fernway as I recall), could this be the name that is meant?

  20. “Boris”,

    So, it turns out I have been living in the house where the Colbys lived, and where Cremer was killed, for the past 14 years – and have only just now heard this story for the first time.

    I was having a pleasant chat with my neighbor, two doors down, who lives where Cremer and the rest of the Youngs lived, and apparently something we were talking about reminded her of the tragedy and it just came pouring out. I feel like she initially thought she was telling me a story about something that occurred in the house NEXT-DOOR to mine – not something that happened in my own home – and then by the time it dawned on her it was too late to reel it back in.

    She did not remember details or names, but it did not take long for me to find the story online. I have been filled with such a strange and unpleasant feeling since I learned this and yet I am also oddly compelled to learn as much as I can. I have decided not to tell my (now teenaged) children and hope they never find out that they lived most of their lives in a house where such a thing occurred.

    I was strangely glad to find this site as it fills in the blanks left by the newspaper reports. Thank you all for essentially going back and re-living what must have been an awful time in your lives. Reading about the previous residents occupying the homes where I now live my own and socialize with neighbors, is surreal. I can place most of the homes by your descriptions.

    I would be interested in any additional details describing the layout of the area in the house where the stained “white pebble linoleum” was located. I believe it must be the area I now refer to as our “mudroom”, but clearly this part of the house has undergone at least one major renovation. I did find, from the basement looking up, directly in the center of the mudroom floor, a section of old wood cut out and replaced with newer – for whatever reason.

    I cannot imagine the suffering of the Young family. How Mr. and Mrs. Young went on to successfully parent their remaining children, and to remain devoted to one another in marriage, and even function as dedicated contributors to their community, is as close to a miracle as I’ve heard of in a while. The stories of the ornaments and the music dedication and the donations in Cremer’s memory are heart-warming.

    Mariann Colby was clearly a disturbed woman from what I have read here. But I have a thought to add – although it might anger some:

    I work in a pediatric health care setting where I encounter children with all variety of special needs every day. I see what the parents are faced with – how their lives are almost certainly not as they once envisioned when they first dreamed of being mothers or fathers. I am in awe of all of them, but it is apparent that some cope with the rollercoaster of joys and challenges, victories and disappointments – better than others. This gives me pause and causes me to consider whether it’s possible, that the motivation no one seemed to be able to find for what Dane’s mother did, was the unspeakable notion that parenting a child with special needs, perhaps without support or resources, simply became too much for Mariann Colby. That, as well as having more typical children, belonging to other parents around, highlighting the differences between themselves and her son, might have been literally maddening for her. Perhaps she went mad with a kind of jealousy that she herself could not even understand. This might explain how, once removed from the parenting of her son, she might be deemed “sane” by mental health professionals only a few years later.

    Those who have been parents of such children might admit how close to the brink it can push a person, and those who have not, might not be able to accurately imagine what it is like.

    I hope to get some thoughts from anyone reading this, on the following question:

    If you were me, would you have trouble remaining in the house, now that you know? I feel like something has changed and I am not sure how important I should let it be.

    Thank you again for this forum.

  21. I have just read with utter fascination every single post above. I lived on Fernway road, two houses above Lee Road when the Cremer Young murder occurred. As I was exactly his age (though I did not know him) and my house no more than six blocks from where all this took place I (like most everyone who has commented here) was terrified, fascinated and transformed by this event. Shaker was a pretty idyllic place…and other than one dreadful car accident that — ironically enough — happened right around that time and almost right where the Youngs and Colbys lived (several teenagers died when they lost control of their 1966 Ford Mustang and slammed into a tree on Fernway just above Warrington) nothing approaching this degree of tragedy had taken place there. These were seminal events for me as a little boy…literally events that changed the way I viewed the world…and they captivated me for months…then lingered on in the back of my mind for years. The very name Cremer Young assumed a sort of Legend-of-Sleepy-Hollow mystery in my young psyche. Moreover, the twisted wreckage of that Mustang sat behind Shaker Auto Body (up next to the cemetery on Lee at Van Aken) for months and my friends and I rode our bikes there routinely to stare silently…pondering it and trying to wrap out 11-year-old minds around the unfathomable notion that people had actually perished inside it. Cremer’s murder had the same riveting effect on me. If you recall the remarkable Rob Reiner movie “Stand By Me,” it captures the sort of coming-of-age-first-brush-with-death significance I’m trying to describe.

    What’s more, I can add another bizarre subplot to this chilling affair. I’m reluctant to mention names here because although one of the people involved has recently passed away others are still around. But a guy that I happened to room with at college at Arizona in the late seventies attended Onaway with Cremer and was also a close friend. One evening as we sat around our rented house (drinking beer and/or smoking pot…but that’s besides the point), in the course of reminiscing about Shaker Hts. we got to talking about the infamous Cremer Young murder. I was stunned to learn that this guy actually knew Cremer as I’d never personally known anyone who had. What’s more, this guy matter-of-factly related that he was playing with Cremer at Onaway hours before he was killed. Now I can’t be certain that what I was told that night was the truth, but I can say that the guy who told it to me was not prone to exaggeration…nor did he relate this particular story with even a trace of “You-won’t-believe-what-happened!” sensationalism. He just kind of told the story…the way you do when recalling something from your childhood years later. He said Dane Colby showed up and wanted to climb a tree at the schoolyard that he and Cremer were climbing. Neither of them wanted to hang out with Dane (for reasons that I guess have become apparent in reading all these posts) and so they sort of blew him off which sent him running for home in tears. As these were pretty young boys (9 or 10 at most), they sensed they’d probably just gotten themselves into what would soon be hot water, so they parted ways and each went home. Here’s where it gets REALLY creepy. Thirty minutes later Mrs. Colby called my buddy’s home. Although he wasn’t friends with Dane…those of you who lived around there remember that in a neighborhood like that…back then…everybody pretty much knew everybody and the parents of all the kids were known to one another. My friend answered the phone and Mrs. Colby very sweetly told him that Dane wanted to invite him to go swimming at Thornton…why didn’t he grab his suit and a towel and walk over to their house. Too young to sense danger…or even really register how bizarre this was, he actually asked his older brother if he could go. As he described it to me that night 15 years later, he recalled feeling a bit guilty about having made Dane cry and believed in retrospect he might have thought accepting the invitation was a sort of penance. As it happens his own mother wasn’t at home at that moment and — in an astounding incidence of serendipity — his older brother two years his senior forbid him from accepting the invitation without their mother being their to grant permission. Having declined the invitation, he was watching TV ten minutes later when Mrs. Colby burst through the living room door and literally starting beating him up. (At the time he recounted all this to me, I frankly had trouble imagining an adult in that time and place behaving so violently, but now reading all these posts it syncs absolutely with others’ experiences with the woman.) Hearing the commotion and with no adult at home, his older brother ran to his aid and Mrs. Colby dashed out of the house as abruptly as she’d come in. Within a half hour she had telephoned Mrs. Young and convinced her to send Cremer over to retrieve a jacket…and the rest is history. As an aside, I note above that a man named Todd Harshman (whose name seems familiar to me…but it was an awfully long time ago) mentioned Dave Pennybacker. The Pennybacker kids — as I recall — went to St. Dominics. They lived in an absolutely palatial house on Parkland and I was their Plain Dealer carrier. Unfortunately (and remarkably) the Pennybacker name ALSO figures into my earliest awareness of mortality as Dave’s sister (I want to say her name was Ann) drowned at a very young age in an accident at Lake Chautauqua. As I made my Plain Dealer rounds in the pre-dawn hours and their house was literally castle-like, I whistled past the graveyard passing that property for a long time…again…trying to come to terms with what it meant for a child to die.

  22. It’s hard to imagine what would drive someone to kill an 8 year old child. The fact that she served only five years (per someone’s earlier post) really highlights the difference between 60’s culture and the present day. I wonder what Nancy Grace would have made of Mrs. Colby. Not saying I endorse that kind of treatment. Just wondering.

  23. Wow… that is fascinating. There are very few names I recall from that part of my life, so naming names is not a factor for me, since I was *technically* a grade behind Cremer and so we had different classmates. Cramer & I were essentially the same age; in fact, if I recall correctly they were going to hold Cremer back a grade so that point would have been moot. The only detail about this story that sounds atypical was that we always played with Dane; at the time, I considered him my “second best” friend (Cremer was my best). We never excluded him, to my knowledge, from our backyard funtime. Like many other kids, though, two’s company and three’s a crowd. I do recall Cremer as being a very gregarious kid; perhaps in this instance he deferred to the other kid and wound up excluding Dane and making him feel bad. From the sounds of it, Mrs. Colby was out to avenge wrongs… and we all know how badly that all ended.

  24. I’m writing a book about this case and it would help me immensely if I could talk to you about your memories of this tragic event. My email address is: Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you. William L. Tabac, emeritus professor, Cleveland State Law School

  25. I don’t know any of these people. I stumbled across your comments while looking for information about another case. Growing up in Ohio, I found it interesting so I did some web searching. It appears that Mariann K. (Kautz) Colby may have remarried to Russell E. Cordle, they are both deceased. Dane Colby is listed as step-son in the obituary of Russell E. Cordle.

    CORDLE, Mariann K (KAUTZ); 82; Columbus OH; Columbus D; 2007-3-30 (most records say 3-26-2007)

    Mariann K. Cordle
    January 2, 1925 – March 26, 2007

    Mariann was a resident of Dublin, Ohio at the time of her passing.
    She obtained a music degree from Minnesota College.
    She was active with social organizations, including Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dublin.
    She was married to Russell.

    CORDLE Russell E. Cordle, age 83, of Amlin, died Tuesday, September 13, 2011, Monterey Care Center, Grove City. WW II US Army Air Corp Veteran. Preceded in death by parents, wife, two brother, three sisters. Survived by step-son, Dane Colby of Hilliard; and sister, Helen Orsban of Franklin, NC. Graveside service 2 p.m. Friday, September 16, 2011, Jerome Township Cemetery, Plain City.

    Robert Walsh Colby died at age 87 in Lynchburg, VA on May 24, 2008. He married twice more and has another son, Thomas. His obituary lists Dane G. Colby of Columbus as his son. The G might stand for Gardner which was the middle name of Robert’s father.

    Link to the obituary of Robert Walsh Colby:

    Per Ohio Death Records….Robert Walsh Colby and Marianne Kautz Colby are listed as parents on the death certificate of a male. COD at University Hospital is listed as spontaneous abortion @ 20 wks on October 15, 1953. Their address at the time was 3163 Warrington Rd., Shaker Hts, OH.

    I also came across this old news photo of Mariann and Dane.

    My sincerest regards to all who have been affected by the tragedy of a young life lost.
    R.I.P. John Cremer Young Jr.

  26. First off, thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to click on the comments section on a blog post I created in 2009. EVERY bit of information shared here has helped me in my quest to get answers to questions I never thought to ask. Professor Tabac, I have sent you an email at the address you posted. Karen, your research confirms what I uncovered, albeit with quite a bit more detail.

    Interesting that Mariann was a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (I live near where the hill Cumorah is held every year). They should have a fairly comprehensive family tree on the Colby/Cordles. Also, the fact that the Colby’s lost a child in 1953 due to a “spontaneous abortion” is informative. This was surely traumatic, and, given Mariann’s fragile emotional state must’ve be a causative factor for her later behavior.

    For those who haven’t figured it out, I am “Tad.” After the murder & the trial and before the Cleveland riots my family packed up in the middle of my fourth grade year and moved to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I never set foot back in Cleveland until 1981, when I took a bus from Columbus Ohio back to Upstate New York.

    Ironically, I lived in Columbus for a bit after I graduated from Kenyon… If I knew that Mariann Colby had been living in the area at the time, I would have been devastated.

    Still, so many unanswered questions. E.G. what about Dane Colby? He is most certainly a victim here… his mother tried to implicate him in Cremer’s death. This must have been traumatizing for an eight year old. His depiction as a “slow child” by the print media was deplorable. When I think of what I went through as a child, his life must have been nightmarish. Dane, if you or a family member stumble upon this thread, please respond. My memory of you as a child has always been as a friend. For years, my mantra has been that “my best friend was murdered by the mother of my other best friend.”

    All too much, and still, not enough.

  27. Have I got a story for you. My name is ed puro. I was 15 years old when cremer was killed. Was living on e. 211 st. in euclid at the time. I was saddened by the news even at that young age. Heres the scoop. After mariann murdered cremer mr. Colby divorced her and moved to euclid, on e. 210 th st. Jump ahead 10 months, june 1966. Were just out on summer vacation and my younger brother joe is down stairs with his friend tommy with some new kid that was kind of wierd. Guess who it was? Dane colby, he was just a street away. The news story came flooding back to me! That kind of burned it in to my memory! Now lets jump ahead 30 years, 1996. A friend of mine who is a sargeant with euclid police buys a house. I ask him where. He says e. 210 st, the house colby lived in! My friend still lives in that house. Its another constant reminder of that senseless killing back in 65. I just had to share this story with you. Ed.

  28. Tad. Did you live close to “Booie” Austin on Huntington? Or the Thayers? I had a few other friends around you too. Danny Straffon who died too young from Leukemia. Billy Black. Steve McIntyre. And down at my end of the block, Colin “Cape” McKay, who moved away not long after the murder. Cape and I were best friends and him moving away right after all that trauma really upset me. Its interesting to read all this updated stuff.

    Just last week a received an e-mail from someone who had read this thread. He lived in Euclid and Dane and his dad moved onto his block afterwards. And apparently Dane’s aggressiveness and rudeness was on display immediately. I won’t leave this guys name since he could’ve shared this info and chose not to. Anyway, as I approach my 60th birthday, I still can’t avoid thinking about Cremer even after all these years.

    Todd Harshman

  29. Name doesn’t ring a bell… I remember John Rhodes (sp?), Charlie Oberndorf (again, sp?) and Steve Daniels. Steve’s dad was my dentist. I’m nearing 59, so that may explain why.

  30. Thanks, Ed… Dane was a victim of this mess. I hear William Tabac tried to contact about the book he’s writing about Cremer, but Dane did not want to participate. Dane, if you’re out there… nobody holds you at fault.

  31. Boris, I agree with you. Dane was a victim, an innocent child. If i’m not mistaken his mom took him with her when she dumped cremer’s body in the woods in gates mills. VERY BAD. Then she tried to pin the murder on him saying he shot cremer. VERY BAD. Of course police then found he lacked the strength to pull the trigger. If that were me I would be freaked out. Anyway put yourself in his spot, this woman, mariann, was his dear sweet mother! I would not mind hearing from you folks. My email address is Ed puro.

  32. Wow! We too lived on Chadbourne, we remember the Shaker police coming into our house, I had to tie the dog! They did look in our refrigerator! My husband died overseas when our only child was a baby, so we moved in with my mom…my son is now the starting center on the Shaker football team and I STILL DO NOT LET HIM PLAY at anyone’s house, he can invite friends here, or we can meet at Thornton or CSC! I still remember how scared all the Chadbourne and Warrington neighbors were!

  33. I live on Cape Cod and just ran into someone from Lima Ohio. It reminded me of Cremer Young and Marianne Colby. Turns out that this woman’s mother worked at the state hospital and retired from there. I was a year older than Cremer an went to Boulevard, not Onaway, but I remember that the principal of Boulevard(Mr. Evans), bought the Colby house after the murders. A school function brought some of us to the house and I remember looking on the floor for stains and being freaked out that I was in the house where it happened. My father was good friends with the Youngs and reported to me that they had to make the trip to Lima every year to plead their case to keep Marianne locked up. My younger brother was best friends with Kenzie throughout high school.
    The story that was related to me was that Mrs. Colby was jealous of Cremer because he was blonde and blue eyed and a great little athlete and all-around perfect American kid. Dane(and I thought his name was Dana back then) was socially awkward, etc. and she couldn’t deal with it.
    I grew up on Winthrop Rd, 2 streets east of Lee Rd , down the street from Danny Straffon.

  34. Fascinating how the conversation here has continued to expand for over 5 years now. Clearly the incident had a lasting and deep psychological impact on everyone close to it. I was similarly impacted when I was in third grade by the violent stabbing deaths of Lori Crowe and Lorna Ritz (two girls in my grade school girl scout troop) by Kenneth Lykens in 1971 as they went door to door collecting cans and bottles for what must have been one of the first recycling campaigns of the era. The experience was just as described above in terms of the adults hiding the newspapers, avoiding talking about it, and no support/counseling at school or otherwise. You just had your sad thoughts and horrific mental images and dealt with them. In this case they said the bodies were found in garbage bags in a drainage ditch off the side of a nearby road and to this day, every time I spot a garbage bag on the side of any road the unbidden thought occurs that it might contain a dead body.

    Anyway, as the current inhabitant of the Colby house, in case anyone still has more to add, I remain curious and interested in any additional details anyone might have to offer. I would appreciate corresponding or speaking with anyone who would be willing to share what else they remember.

    Specifically, of the many things I find myself wondering, for those of you who have memories of playing in the backyards of Cremer and Dane (and were there Goodman children?), and who came from Huntington, Chadbourne and elsewhere, could you answer whether there were fences such that one must have arrived by sidewalk, or were the yards connected and traversable without jumping a fence or walking around the block via the sidewalk? All of the yards are fenced-in now – I surmise either because of pets, or maybe installed as a reaction to the incident.

    I would happily provide contact information to anyone wishing to discuss privately.

  35. J. Eric Russell: A slight correction regarding the name Mrs. Colby registered the gun under. She used the name “Nancy Russell” not “Janet Young”, but still suggesting a connection with the Young famiy and your family (Mrs. Young’s first name and your last name. ) You might very well have literally “dodged a bullet”.

  36. Phoebe, as someone who spent a great deal of time playing at the Young’s and the Colby’s houses, I do remember a fence separating backyards. They say “good fences make good neighbors” but sadly this wasn’t the case. As someone who *did* (very literally) dodge a bullet, for some reason my memories of the Colby’s back yard is the strongest.

  37. My maiden name is Mary Au Werter. I was in first grade with John Cremer Young and Dane Colby. I have our first grade class photo. I remember both boys but only from school. I moved to Cleveland Heights after first grade.

  38. Stumbled across this site and memories came flooding back to me. I am glad to see other classmates posting here and glad to see that Boris is our Tad (so nice to find you, Tad!). A thing I distinctly recall, besides playing at your home (which, I thi k was on N. St. James) was being told that you had been close friends with Cremer. It gave you a certain aura. The way that horrible murder unfolded was terrifying. I also remember that the two of us were among the tallest in our class and that, in 3rd grade (I think), you fell and broke your front teeth (at recess??). I was called Cackie (and still am by childhood pals). There is a Roxboro class page for our class on facebook. If you’re on FB, I can add you to that group. Let me know. -Cackie

  39. Wow… don’t recall you, Cackie but your memory is quite accurate. Were you also friends with Steve Daniels? I’m not on FB…

  40. I was thinking of my first cousin Lori Crowe today and unintentionally came across your site. all your postings especially Phoebe’s resonate with me even though I moved from Akron in 1972 and was too young to remember the tragic deaths. Being a former Police officer and living in Canada I appreciate all your comments and memories especially remembering Lori.

  41. My name is Ronald Guentzler. I lived on Plymouth Place in East Cleveland, 1948-49 when I was 9-10 years old and later moved to another apartment on the corner of the street where Shelia Ann Truly was murdered at the age of 21. I now live in L.A. and am doing a history of my family. I am hoping that someone with any knowledge can tell me the street on which the truly’s lived. I recently, this Thanksgiving turned 79 and my memory is fading. What is strange is that my family later moved to 16000 Grovewood next to Humphrey’s field where my younger brother and his friend found the body of a woman, last name of Martin in I believe 1956. Her brother was in my homeroom at Collinwood High and I worked at the Beach Home Bakery (dish washer) owned by the murderers adopted parents. After moving to L.A. in 1967 I lived on Coldwater Canyon and met Julius Petro my aunts ex husband. We had lunch and 10 days later he was murdered gangster style at the airport. So you can see I am not a safe neighbor. But if anyone can help me it will be appreciated. Thank you. my Email address is

  42. This case is detailed on Murderpedia. Here it states that Mrs Colby at one time was in love with John Young, that she stalked him until he confronted her at a dinner party and asked her to leave him alone. After asking Colbys husband to intervene she left him alone. Its hard to believe her behavior-slapping other children around-went unchecked. Beating children with a broom? Knocking them off of their bicycles? In most other neighborhoods she would have been subject to arrest/civil lawsuits. It seems the neighbors new she was disturbed and accepted it, with disastrous results.

  43. I’m familiar with the website you’ve cited; As I have stated elsewhere on the side I was friends with both Cremer and Dale. I never experienced any of the behavior that you mention. But perhaps the adults did not share that with us. All I can remember is visiting the Colby’s house after Cremer did not show up for our play date. She handed me a jacket that she said he had left behind. We all know now what really happened and I feel I dodged a bullet.

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