August 21, 2014

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Murder suspect fights return to Ohio

LORAIN —  Albert Fine, suspected of killing the mother of his 5-month-old daughter and stuffing the woman’s body in an apartment storage area, is fighting extradition to Ohio to face a murder charge.

Fine, 30, was arrested in a Lowe’s parking lot in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, a day after the body of 26-year-old Catherine “Kat” Hoholski was discovered at the Tower Boulevard apartment complex where the couple lived.

Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans estimated she has been dead a month.

Fine refused to waive extradition back to Ohio during a brief hearing Friday in Fayette County District Court, according to the clerk of courts office there. He will face another hearing Aug. 16.

Jason Rothrock, director of prosecutions for the Fayette County Attorney’s Office, said that all his office has to do, if Fine does resist being brought back to Ohio, is prove his identity. He said there will be no review of the evidence against Fine.

Lorain police tracked Fine to Kentucky using information generated during the investigation, but police Lt. Mark Carpentiere declined to provide specifics.

Also located in Lexington was Merry Bennett, also known as Merry Rivera, who police wanted to question about Hoholski’s death. She was interviewed and released without being charged, Carpentiere said.

Police remained tight-lipped Friday about how Hoholski was killed and what they believe motivated Fine.

Carpentiere said although Fine is in custody at the Fayette County Detention Center, he has not been interviewed by detectives.

Evans said his office began working on the autopsy of Hoholski’s body Friday, but getting the final results could take weeks.

He said Hoholski’s body, which was partially clothed when discovered, was badly decomposed, something that was exacerbated by the heat in the area where she was found.

Because of the advanced decomposition, determining how Hoholski was killed — Evans said there’s no doubt her death was a homicide — will take some time, he said. One critical element, he said, is determining what happened to Hoholski’s body both before and after her death.

“It’s a very difficult thing when you have a body that’s been missing for a month and decomposing,” Evans said.

Residents at the Villas of Beau Monde apartment complex had complained for weeks about the smell in the area near where the body was found.

Hoholski was reported missing July 12 by her mother, Jane Hoholski. The elder Hoholski told police that she last saw her daughter June 28 when she dropped her off at her apartment after a trip to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, according to the Lorain police missing person report.

Catherine Hoholski’s daughter, Jasmine Rose Fine, was born prematurely March 2 and has been hospitalized since, according to a neighbor and Fine’s Facebook page.

Jane Hoholski told police when she made the report that Fine hadn’t seen Catherine Hoholski since June 28.

“Albert continues to go with Jane to Cleveland, and see his and Catherine’s child, but he tells Jane, Catherine has not been home, and she has not even been back to collect any of her belongings,” the report said.

Catherine Hoholski, who was being treated for depression, had her last contact with the Nord Center the week of June 28, her mother told police.

Jane Hoholski also told police that on July 3 the sister of her daughter’s ex-boyfriend sent her a text message telling her where Catherine Hoholski’s car was.

She also told officers that she had sent her daughter several text messages and received some texts from her phone, although when she asked questions only Catherine Hoholski would know, the person replying only got some of the answers correct.

Kenneth Hoholski, Catherine Hoholski’s father, said Friday that his family wasn’t ready to speak publicly about his daughter’s death.

Staff writer Cindy Leise contributed to this story.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.