November 23, 2014


William Dembie found guilty of murder, felonious assault

William Dembie smiles at his parents as he leaves the court following the verdict Friday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

William Dembie smiles at his parents as he leaves the court following the verdict Friday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Former Lorain County Jail guard William Dembie Jr. was found guilty Friday of murder, felonious assault and domestic violence for killing his wife, Holly Dembie, on Aug. 11, 2011.

Dembie, 45, will receive a prison sentence of at least 15 years to life when he is sentenced Dec. 16.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski, who decided the case instead of a jury, cleared Dembie of the more serious aggravated murder charge that prosecutors had pushed for. Betleski also rejected the defense’s arguments that Dembie was guilty only of voluntary manslaughter.

Defense attorney J. Anthony Rich said after the verdict was handed down that he was pleased by Betleski’s decision.

“He was convicted on what we were willing to plead guilty to three weeks ago,” Rich said.

Cheryl Foldes, Holly Dembie’s mother, said she would have liked to have seen her former son-in-law convicted of aggravated murder, but was relieved he was at least found guilty of murder.

“He’s guilty. He’s a murderer,” Foldes said as she and her family left the courtroom.

Leslie Gregg of Brookpark, Holly Dembie's uncle, holds a photo of her following the verdict.

Leslie Gregg of Brookpark, Holly Dembie’s uncle, holds a photo of her following the verdict.

Dembie told deputies after his arrest that “I just snapped. I seen red,” during an argument with his wife at their Cowley Road home in Grafton Township.

He said the argument began after he went into Holly Dembie’s bedroom after she returned home from a night out with friends. The argument centered on their failed marriage, another man she was seeing and her plans to divorce him, Dembie told deputies.

During the heated conversation, Dembie said, Holly Dembie pushed him, and he punched her in the face. After that, the estranged couple spent some time getting ice before the arguing started again.

This time, however, Dembie said he was armed with a combat knife, something he thought would force his wife to listen to him. But he said he became upset because she was telling him what he wanted to hear.

Prosecutors said Holly Dembie tried to flee and William Dembie chased her through the house. She made it into a second-floor bathroom and Dembie forced the door open to see her trying to escape out the window.

He told deputies that he pulled off Holly Dembie’s pants and stabbed her before letting her drop 14 feet and 8 inches to the ground. He then went downstairs and stabbed her several more times. In total there were eight stab wounds on Holly Dembie’s nude body, which was found in a pool of blood in the backyard.

Prosecutors argued that the killing was premeditated because Dembie had time to think about what he was doing when he went downstairs and outside to finish off the murder. But Betleski said there wasn’t enough evidence that Dembie was carrying out a plan to justify the aggravated murder charge.

Defense attorneys had argued that Dembie killed his wife in a sudden fit of passionate rage. But Betleski said the push from Holly Dembie and her words weren’t sufficient provocation to justify a voluntary manslaughter charge.

After killing Holly Dembie, William Dembie called the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and told a dispatcher that he had killed his wife during a fight. He described the killing as “almost a beheading” in the call.

Michael Foldes, Holly Dembie’s stepfather, said William Dembie abused his wife, who worked with special needs children at Midview Schools. He said he recalled walking Holly Dembie down the aisle at the couple’s wedding several years ago.

“He said ‘til death do us part,’ but that does not mean he kills her when he wants another relationship,” Michael Foldes said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Shame on you, Mark Betleski. Shame on you.

    • luvmytoaster

      You said it Larry….how is it not premeditated when he stabbed her, she climbed out of a 2nd story window and he goes down two flights and then outside to finish her off? Unbelievable!

  • Mark B

    Atleast the POS will finally get move to Prison where he belongs, not held at Lorain County Jail by all of his buddies

    • Melanie Lovell Innes

      The smug look on his face from the Chronicle article the other day just made my stomach turn. Just try to imagine being Holly and so scared for your life, that you were going to jump out a 2nd story window. I CAN’T imagine it. He is an animal and should have gotten more. I am sure he was hoping to get a lighter sentence not going with a jury. POS is right, and that is being kind.

      • Melanie Lovell Innes

        why is he smiling? Makes me want to throw up.
        I have to wonder how defense attorneys sleep at night.

  • Don Grantzki

    Another loss for the taxpayers. What possible reason is there to keep this rat alive?

    • Razorback Twou

      Well,Jeez, I don’t know. The law maybe?

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        Under our laws, this animal could have been put down as deserved. Unfortunately we have morons sitting on the bench.

        • Razorback Twou

          Moron or no, Larry, he can not be “put down” for what he was found guilty of. That is the law.

          • Larry Crnobrnja

            The point is there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty of aggravated murder. Betleski did not do his job. Dembie had opportunity to interrupt his “snap”. This is a miscarriage of justice. Hopefully voters remember this when Betleski runs for re-election.

          • Elisabeth1981

            I agree Razorback. Under Ohio law to be eligible for the death penalty you have to have to fit certain criteria. I believe the law should be changed to add domestic violence. The criteria can be as follows:

            The murder of a child (IE Jacob Diar sad his mom is now serving life we all know where she belongs)

            The murder of a law enforcement officer

            Killing of one prison inmate by another

            Killing of a crime witness to prevent testimony

            killing of one during the commission of another felony (rape kidnapping)

            Murder for hire

            Although James Filiaggi received the death penalty for killing his ex wife Lisa. I have to wonder since both cases were very similar why Dembie didn’t receive the death penalty since Filiaggi was put to death about 7 years ago.

          • Razorback Twou

            i believe Filiaggi was found guilty of aggravated murder while committing another felony (kidnapping,using a firearm, etc) . Dembie slipped under the aggravated circumstance, shouldn’t have, but did.

  • zdubb78

    Well done judge. It was not aggravated or premeditated

    She abused him. Cheated on him and she hit him he was defending himself
    What he do was obviously horrible ad he will do his time as he should!!!!

    • Jim

      Give me a break. She– an early learning teacher– abused him– a trained corrections officer who is used to dealing with tough hardened criminals!??

      Her “cheating on him” is not germane to this discussion at all, even if it were true. And how was he defending himself when, by his own word, she was trying to GET AWAY FROM HIM? You don’t “defend yourself” by leaving the scene, grabbing a knife, then coming back, stabbing your wife, pushing/her or have her jump out the window, then go back downstairs outside to stab her more.

      This was premeditated murder. He had plenty of time to thing about his actions and choose a different course, and he conciously chose to murder her.

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      He was defending himself? Are you an idiot troll or just an idiot?

    • Diedre Ashmun

      Mr. Zdubb78 I believe you have no idea you are talking about. You are making an opinion by what the paper has portrayed him as being abused. I noticed that you are a family man with young girls. Let me ask you a question, have you every hit you wife, degrader her? Do you surf the internet looking for “friends with benefits”. On holidays do you share time with your family or do you go out with co-workers to bars and come home bloody with your clothes ripped. Do you attend family holidays or do you spend that time with you lady friends for days at a time. Well let me tell you, this is what Holly put up with for many years…abuse, being degraded, spending holidays alone with her little boy. She decided enough was enough and filed for a divorce. She wanted someone to Love, & Cherish her, work with her, and someone that she could have grown old with…Mr Dembie was not that kind of man. Let me ask you a question, but yourself as a father in this situation and pretend this happened to your daughters, I would really like to know what you would have done. I pray to God no family ever has to endure what our family did. Holly was a loving, caring person and moral person. Google her name and really find out what her values were in life, I give you the first one to look at she deserved better in life… then google Bill Dembie . You will see they had nothing in common. I hope the next time you decide to make a comment about a person, you put yourself in their shoe, walk the miles they did. There are evil people out there, and hopefully your children do not run across one of them,..I hope you and you family have a wonderful Holiday Season and God Bless you.

      • Pamela Norris

        Well said, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  • willlam

    I’m sure BigSweetBubba will have a bigger smile on his face,than this “not a man” monster! Killing a woman,SMH.

  • Thomas G. Malloy


  • donmega

    They will have fun with him when he gets to jail,he was an a$$hole guard in the county.

  • Erik

    If she had done what she was told she would still be alive. A cautionary tale for women who think about acting out.

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      Acting out? Explain.