October 25, 2014

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Man charged with murder


Police: Lorain man ambushed, shot boyfriend of his ex-wife

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CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Bail was set for $1 million for Frank Honaker as he appears before Lorain Municipal Judge Mark J. Mihok via video. Honaker is charged with aggravated murder in the shooting death of Christopher Betts.

LORAIN — A Lorain man killed his estranged wife’s boyfriend Thursday after bringing their two children to her West Erie Avenue apartment for a surprise visit, police said.

Frank Honaker, 45, was charged with aggravated murder Friday morning in Lorain Municipal Court for the shooting death of Christopher Betts, 37, of Columbia Township. He was being held on a $1 million bond at the county jail.

Lorain police found Betts lying on his back and conscious about 7:35 p.m. outside the rear entrance of Lakeshore Colonial Apartments. He was breathing and had a pulse but couldn’t speak, the police report said.

Betts was transferred to CHP Regional Medical Center, where he died at 8:20 p.m. as a result of a gunshot wound to his lower chest and abdomen, according to county Coroner Paul Matus.

Betts had been dating Honaker’s estranged wife, Lori Honaker, for the past couple months and was inside her apartment when she received a phone call from her 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son saying that they were outside her apartment.

Lori Honaker told police that her husband had threatened to kill Betts when he first learned of their relationship, so she told him to go out the apartment’s rear exit to avoid a confrontation.

While welcoming her kids inside the front of the building, Frank Honaker walked to the rear of the building, where he confronted Betts and shot him, according to police.

Lori Honaker told police she heard a loud “popping” noise, and several seconds later she saw her husband walking from the rear of the building to the front.

“There, how do you like that?” Frank Honaker said to her, according to the police report.

The daughter told police she saw her father place a black handgun in his waistband and pull his shirt over top of it as he made his way to the front of the building, according to the report.

He drove away as Lori Honaker and her children ran to the rear of the building where they found Betts, police said. He turned himself in to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Both children told police that it was their father’s idea to surprise their mother with their visit, and that they would not have gone had they known Betts was going to be hurt, the report said.

Sgt. Mark Carpentiere said police still are investigating whether Honaker had planned to kill Betts.

A family member who answered the phone at Betts’ Hawke Road residence said the family was “devastated” by the news that Betts had been killed.

On Wednesday, Betts’ wife, Peggy, filed papers for divorce from him. She and her husband had two children, ages 13 and 6.

Betts had been employed as a maintenance worker for 17 years at Beckett Air, Inc. in North Ridgeville, and made friends easily with all those he came in contact with, according to company president Chuck Visocky.

“He was really good at serving people and was well-liked,” Visocky said. “It’s been a tough day for all of us."

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.