Put-In-Bay: Arrest made in death of Westlake native

6:33 PM, Sep 7, 2011   |    comments
  • Courtesy: Port Clinton News Herald
  • Zachary J. Brody
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PUT-IN-BAY -- The man found dead in Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island Tuesday afternoon was a Westlake native. His parents still live in Westlake.

Ottawa County Sheriff Robert L. Bratton identified the man as Phil Masterson, 25. St. Ignatius High School officials confirm that Masterson was a 2004 graduate. He had been a member of the school's wrestling team.

His body was found in a wooded area at or near the Island Club, according to the sheriff's office.

At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Channel 3 News confirmed that detectives from the Ottawa County Sheriff's department were interviewing Zachary J. Brody, 27, of Bowling Green, as a suspect in Masterson's death.

At 3 p.m., Channel 3 confirmed that Brody had been arrested and charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault in Masterson's death.

He is now at the Ottawa County Detention Center in Port Clinton.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation officials arrived on South Bass Island about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Masterson's body was removed from the island on the 8 a.m. ferry.

Masterson had been reported missing by his family Sunday and his body was found by his brother in the woods near the cabin where he was staying, covered by a grill tarp. 

The sheriff's office says there is no official cause of death but said he appeared to have been severely beaten.

Masterson was an up and coming star in Mixed Martial Arts, according to Dan Bobish, founder of Ultimate Cage Battles. "He had his first two fights this summer and won, them both" Bobish told WKYC. "Phil was a good man from a good family."

"Phil was on his way," Bobish said. "He was going to fight in my next show October 8th here. It's a shame. It's really a shame. I just can't believe this happened. Just a good person, quality family. Five siblings. A tragic loss.

Bobish, a former super heavyweight champion Mixed Martial Artist, said it is hard to believe that Masterson could have been overcome by one man.

"It doesn't add up because the kid was strong," Bobish continued. "Back when I was in shape we used to roll around. He was young then and I've been retired a couple years, but he could go with me a little bit. He was all of 220 pounds."

Phil Masterson's older brother, Matt, is a professional MMA fighter, and considered a rising star in the sport. Matt Masterson has won the majority of his matches.

Co-workers of Phil Masterson's also wondered if more than one person was involved in his murder. "Phil was a great kid, a tough kid," said one, at the wall products plant in the southwest suburbs where Masterson was employed.

"There is no way on the face of the earth that one person did that," the co-worker told WKYC. "Phil was gentle, and I have seen him single handedly breakup trouble among three guys."

Ottawa County sheriff's deputies are treating the case like a homicide but are waiting on the cause of death until they get the results of an autopsy. They are treating this case like an isolated incident.

The Island Club is a development of about 70 rental homes.


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