MIAMI COUNTY — Prior to sentencing him to 18 years to life in prison for the murder of his wife, Judge Jeannine Pratt told Randy Freels, 57, of Ludlow Falls, “the only thing you care about is yourself.”
“By all accounts, the victim in this case was a loving daughter, committed mother and grandmother, her family was the focus of her life. She was a cancer survivor, a fighter and somewhat inexplicably, she was also committed to your well-being, sir,” Pratt said.
Pratt recounted how the family was looking forward to Samantha Freels’ son’s wedding, the date of which was moved up so she could attend due to her own failing health.
“You sir, murdered your own wife, a woman who cared for you, in cold blood a week before your son’s wedding. The punishment that this court will impose today will pale in comparison to your ultimate judgment,” said Pratt.
Pratt listed the many inconsistencies of Freels’ account of the events involving his 52-year-old wife on Jan. 12.
“You lied because you were trying to cover your tracks. You were hoping to get yourself out of this mess. And that is a clear indication to this court is that they only thing you care about is yourself,” Pratt said.
Pratt said though Freels might spend the rest of his life in prison, it wouldn’t fill the void of the family and their loss. She also commended the actions of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and Troy Police Department in apprehending Freels following the investigation.
With little expression, Freels sat in court motionless as family members of his deceased wife shared the loss and grief they’ve experienced.
Erica Freels said she traveled with her future mother-in-law to treatments and recalled their last phone conversation the day she was killed. Erica also shared how her mother missed the wedding of her son and instead was buried in her mother-in-law dress instead of dancing and enjoying her family on her wedding day.
Another family member spoke on behalf of Samantha’s mother, who stated, “All Randy did was take.”
Samantha’s father, Billy Howard, said, “She was everything. In my book, she was everything.”
Howard recounted the years of abuse his daughter endured and the manner Randy treated her over the years, before pleading with the court to impose a harsher sentence.
“This 18 to life ain’t going get it with me,” Howard said.
Prior hearings, Freels entered a plea of no contest and the court found him guilty of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. The felonious assault charge was dismissed at sentencing.
At the change of plea hearing, Prosecutor Tony Kendell said the state had a variety of witnesses plus deputy cruiser dash cam video that placed Freels at the scene. Witnesses said they saw Samantha Freels help Randy Freels into her vehicle after he ran off the road in his truck into an embankment on the snowy road. Later, witnesses found Samantha Freels’ red car off the side of the road in a creek as Randy Freels walked away, hiding a Bursa .380 handgun in the area of the accident. Evidence also included gun residue on Freels’ coat and other evidence.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a car off the side of the road during poor road conditions in the area of Elleman Road and West State Route 55 in Union Township on Jan. 12. Units on the scene advised the victim was not breathing. Samantha Freels’ vehicle was located in a creek, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. A deputy noticed a bullet hole in the trunk of the car. Medics at the scene found a bullet wound while attempting to treat Samantha Freels.
Randy Freels was later apprehended by the Special Response Team at his home in the 2000 block of Rangeline Road.
In March, a family member filed a civil lawsuit in Miami County Common Pleas Court against Freels. Anthony Freels, administrator of the estate of his mother, filed the suit, dated Feb. 20, seeking monetary compensation for more than $25,000 in a wrongful death suit in civil court. A hearing regarding damages will be held later this week.