ASHTABULA — Local caterer Timothy Meola was found dead Saturday in his Painesville apartment.

He was murdered in his apartment sometime overnight, said employees at Guyreino's Deli/Meola Catering.

The Painesville Police Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and the Lake County Coroner's investigator were on the murder scene all Saturday afternoon but are not releasing any information. Consequently the details surrounding his death are not yet known.

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said he received confirmation of Meola's death from Painesville police. 

Foul play is suspected and the matter is under investigation.

Meola, 65, was found by a family member after he was supposed to cater an event and didn't show up. His employees called a family member, who went to check on him and found his body.

Ashtabula City Councilman Richard Quaranta, who represents Ward 3, said Meola was a hard worker.

An Ashtabula native, Meola graduated from St. John High School and studied at Kent State University.

Diana Sjostrom, of Ashtabula, said her aunt helped Meola get his start in the catering business.

"He was a nice man," she said. "It's a terrible tragedy."

Mariella Platano, of Ashtabula, said it was "horrible and so sad."

Conneaut native Suzanne Hise-Pratt said it's very sad.

"He was a very talented caterer and caring man," she said. "Our community has certainly lost a treasure."

Kelly Ridenour, also a Conneaut native, said Meola's "culinary genius" will not be forgotten.

Ashtabula businessman Franny Martone said Meola touched most of the community in one way or another through his catering business.

"You would see this hardworking man making sure everything went smoothly from the kitchen to the buffet line," he said. "Our community lost a good man."

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