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Two Bellaire Residents Charged With Extorting Belmont Murder Victim

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — While investigating the double murder of a Belmont couple, detectives allegedly uncovered a plot by two Bellaire residents to blackmail one of the victims, which led to their arrest.

On Monday, Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas announced the arrest of 31-year-old Anthony Michael Dibacco and 25-year-old Miana Maylyn Smith, both of Guernsey Street. The pair have been charged with extortion after detectives allegedly linked them to a plot to extort Thomas Strussion, the owner of two local Salsa Joe’s restaurants.

Strussion and his wife, Angela, were found dead in their home located along Trails End Drive in Belmont on Sept. 21 following the report of a fire. The sheriff’s office confirmed last week that it was a double homicide; however, information regarding the manner of deaths has not yet been released.

Lucas said detectives uncovered the extortion plot amid the investigation into the homicides. He said a search warrant was served Sunday at a Guernsey Street address in Bellaire where Dibacco and Smith were both arrested.

Lucas said it is early in the investigation and detectives are still working to determine if the blackmail plot is connected to the homicides.

“At this point we are unsure if this is related to the homicide, but the plot was uncovered so the arrest was made and possibly further charges will be made after the prosecutor reviews the case,” he said.

Dibacco and Smith are currently being held without bond at the Belmont County Jail.

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