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Prosecuting Attorney

Prosecuting Attorney

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Morris and Blanchong - homicide - 2019


Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Michael G. Roehrig announces convictions in a pair of related homicide cases arising from the death of James Wappner on December 2, 2018, in Erie Township.

On October 16, 2019, a Monroe County jury found Raymond Blanchong (40, of Maumee, Ohio), guilty in the death of Mr. Wappner (45, of Toledo, Ohio). After three days of testimony, the jury deliberated for approximately two hours before finding Blanchong guilty of First-Degree Murder, Armed Robbery and Unlawful Imprisonment. The prosecution team included Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s Jeff Yorkey, Leah Hubbard, and Jonathan Jones, and law clerk Anthony Capser. During the Blanchong trial, prosecutors called 18 witnesses. The defense called no witnesses.

On September 19, 2019, a separate jury also found Blanchong’s fiancé, co-defendant Jessica Morris (30, also of Maumee), guilty in the death of Mr. Wappner. After three days of testimony, the jury deliberated for approximately two hours before finding Morris guilty of First-Degree Murder, Armed Robbery and Unlawful Imprisonment. The prosecution team included Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s Jeff Yorkey, Leah Hubbard, and Jonathan Jones, and law clerk Anthony Capser. During the Morris trial, prosecutors called 18 witnesses. The defense called one witness.

The penalty for First Degree Murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole. The convictions were the result of an investigation led by Detective/Sgt. Larry Rothman and Detective/Sgt. Michael Peterson of the Michigan State Police First District Special Investigation Section. Numerous other law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation.

According to evidence presented during the trials, Raymond Blanchong and his then-fiancé Jessica Morris arranged to meet James Wappner at a hotel in Bedford, Michigan on December 2, 2018, with the intention of purchasing drugs. Security camera footage captured the victim entering Blanchong’s pickup truck, shortly before the vehicle began to shake violently and then abruptly leave the parking lot with the victim still inside. On December 3, 2018, a 911 caller reported spotting a body lying face down in a field off Lipp Highway, in southeastern Lenawee County. The body was later identified as James Wappner, who had been stabbed more than 20 times. After robbing and killing Mr. Wappner, Blanchong and Morris fled across multiple states before being arrested in Aurora, Colorado on outstanding murder warrants.