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Signs of trouble for ‘Justice for Jake’

Melissa Topey • Oct 3, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Melissa Likes believes in her right to have a “Justice for Jake & Ella” sign.

One has been displayed in her yard on State Street since March. But one day in August, a phone call from her boyfriend interrupted her at work.

“He said the police were at the house and we had to take the sign down, that it violated the city ordinance,” Likes said.

The ordinance says yard signs must be on private property and cannot be placed on a city right-of-way, such as by a road in the boulevard between the sidewalk and the street.

Likes was unaware of the ordinance and was angered, at first. “Why are they doing this?” Likes asked. “Is it because I live by the courthouse?” She moved the sign next to her home.

Fremont police officer Donnale Williams drove by on another day to make sure it had been moved. “He said thank you and said if I had not done that, ‘you would have received a citation,’” Likes said.

She added a second smaller sign about four weeks ago. There have been no more problems. Another Fremont resident also moved her “Justice for Jake & Ella” sign away from the street. “I have lived in Fremont all my life, and I have never known them to focus so much over signs,” said Shari Sabo.

Her stepson’s father-in-law works for the city. He stopped by the family home to warn them to move the sign off the city right-of-way. “If we did not move the sign, the police or city would come and take it,” Sabo said. She also did not know about the sign.    

Both ladies said they believe they know why the signs are getting attention from the city. Likes said more and more of the signs are going up.

“I think they are embarrassed by what they have done,” Likes said. Sabo agreed.

Responding to a public records request from the Register, Fremont police chief Tim Wiersma said the only complaint his department has received about a Justice for Jake sign was for a sign in front of Likes’ home.

“If someone complains, we address it,” Wiersma said.

Most of the people displaying signs have properly placed them, he said.

Wiersma said his department hasn’t made any special effort in response to the signs, which seek to draw attention to a Sandusky County sheriff’s investigation of the March 2012 killing of Jacob Limberios.

“Everyone can express their opinion,” Wiersma said. “(Residents) are welcome to have them in their yards.”

Sandusky County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bruce Hirt also responded to a records request from the Register.

“No reports or documentation exists of any interactions with our officers concerning ‘Justice for Jake & Ella’ signs,” Hirt said in an emailed statement.

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