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Hatchet killing to grand jury

Sandusky Register Staff • Apr 25, 2015 at 5:15 AM

New evidence will be presented to a grand jury next month in the 1988 gruesome killing of Isabel Cordle in her home just west of Bellevue.

Sandusky County sheriff’s detective Sean O’Connell contacted family members last week.

“He called me and told me it would go to a grand jury the first week of March,” Dawn Bush, one of Cordle’s daughters, told the Register on Monday.

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Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt made the decision just days after the Register published a news article questioning what he intended to do with new evidence developed after the investigation was re-opened last year with the help of the TNT network television show “Cold Justice”    

Stierwalt and O’Connell did not reply to inquiries from the Register last week but spoke to another newspaper about the decision.

The Fremont News-Messenger published a news article Friday stating O’Connell told a News-Messenger reporter evidence would be presented against a suspect who was not identified when the “Cold Justice” episode about the Cordle killing aired in October.

It appears the sheriff’s office no longer suspects Richard Cordle Sr. or his son, Richard Cordle Jr., of being involved.

The “Cold Justice” episode ended with Cordle Sr. being identified as the only remaining suspect after the show’s stars, former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary eliminated four other “persons of interest” who were questioned after Cordle was killed.

Cordle died after one blow to her head with an axe on Jan. 24, 1988. She was asleep on a couch in her home.

The killer struck her three more times with the axe before leaving it propped against a tree outside the home when he left.

Cordle Sr. and Cordle Jr., who was 14 at the time, both were inside the home sleeping in bedrooms when Isabel Cordle was killed. They awoke to find her dead in the living room, and spent the next 25 years under suspicion after being named potential suspects in her killing.

Richard Cordle Jr. said he also was contacted by O’Connell again recently, who told him evidence would be brought before a grand jury the first week of March. But O’Connell, he said, told his sister Katie it would be another month before a case would be presented.

Cordle Jr. said O’Connell also asked him about particular evidence.

“This happened 26 years ago and he’s just calling now about (that evidence)” Cordle Jr. said.

O’Connell has misled him about a grand jury before, he said, so he’s unsure whether it will happen.

“He told me over and over again, ‘next month, next month, next month,’” he said. “When I got into it with him, he said ‘how about I just come and get you’

Bush, Richard Cordle Jr.’s sister, said the new evidence might not convict a killer, but it has helped the family heal from the suspicion surrounding their mother’s death.

“Now, everybody out there can know the family wasn’t involved,” she said. “If (they don’t get an indictment), I won’t be surprised. If they do, I’ll be very happy. They seem very confident”

O’Connell and Stierwalt did not respond to inquiries from the Register on Monday or last week.

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