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Keeping tabs on probe

Register • Oct 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

The “Justice for Jake & Ella” Facebook page keeps chugging along, nearing 11,000 followers from across the state and the country. 

One of those recent FB “likes” came from an unlikely source: Tammy Krupp O’Connell, the wife of Sandusky County Detective Sean O’Connell. 

She signed on with “Justice for Jake” last week. 

“We thought maybe it was a political move,” said Christine Wiedle, a friend and neighbor of the Limberios family who manages the page. 

Wiedle said Limberios family supporters have been told O’Connell plans to be a candidate for Sandusky County sheriff next year. Tammy O’Connell’s profile photo with her “like” at Justice for Jake & Ella shows the couple together, with the detective’s face filling the frame.  

“It was just strange,” Wiedle said. “You don’t have to ‘like’ the page to follow it.”

O’Connell said he does not intend to be a candidate, and isn’t qualified to run for sheriff. He did not explain why he’s not qualified. 

Justice for Jake & Ella was established by supporters when O’Connell was still lead detective investigating the March 2012 death of Jacob Limberios. The page is designed to present information to the community about the status of the long and troubled probe of his death. 

O’Connell provided the family conflicting information while he was the investigator.

He initially told them Will Lewis, one the three witnesses, had lied about what happened. O’Connell speculated that Lewis accidentally shot Jake. Later, however, he told them Jake shot himself, without explaining how he reached that conclusion, or answering the family’s questions.

The family contends Sandusky County officials failed to execute a competent or credible investigation and the Facebook site is a compilation of information that appears to document numerous questions and serious missteps, including un-refuted allegations that evidence was destroyed, witnesses were improperly interviewed and numerous other concerns.

Detective O’Connell provided the following email response to questions from the Register:

“It’s a shame that you and your newspaper feel the need to bring my family into my line of work. I can assure you that my wife is very supportive of what I do and sympathizes for the Limberios family regards to the loss of their child. My wife does not dislike or like the Justice for Jake and Ella Facebook page. There was an obvious error made on her part, which reflects the idea that she ‘liked’ the Facebook page. 

“The purpose of my wife following the Justice for Jake and Ella facebook page as it would be for law enforcement is to keep abreast of what is being stated via the page as it pertains to this investigation.” 


For Wiedle, that doesn’t make sense. 

“There’s no reason for him, or any Sandusky County law enforcement, to ‘stay abreast’ of the investigation,” Wiedle said. “It was taken away from them because they couldn’t get it right the first time, the second time or the third time.” 

A visiting judge removed Sandusky County officials permanently from any more involvement in May — 15 months after Jake was killed — citing conflicts of interest in the way the multiple local investigations were conducted. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been investigating the death since June. 

Tammy Krupp O’Connell recently removed her Facebook page from the social media site. She could not be reached for comment.

“My wife’s FB status has changed due to the obvious,” O’Connell said, without stating the reason in any more detail. 

DeWine plans to impanel a Sandusky County grand jury next month. The proceeding will likely coincide, nearly coincide or possibly collide, with a segment of the “Dr. Phil” show featuring Mike and Shannon Limberios and two witnesses who were inside the York Township home March 2, 2012, when Jacob was killed. 

Lewis and Brittany Bowers both said Jacob shot himself. They took lie detector tests administered by the state crime lab, BCI, in June 2012, which found they likely were being truthful about what they told detectives immediately after Jake was killed. The validity of those tests have been challenged, however, without a response from the crime lab. 

The couple also both agreed to take lie detector tests again when they were guests on “Dr. Phil.” The results of those tests have not yet been revealed by the program’s producers.

“Seven experts looked at how the BCI tests were done and concluded they weren’t reliable,” Limberios family attorney Dan McGookey said. “I’m sure these new tests are going to present a very different outcome to BCI’s results. Brittany, Will and BCI all have some explaining to do.” 

No specific air date has been scheduled for the “Dr. Phil” program about the Limberios story. A promo being shown on television states the program will air in November. The Register intends to livestream the segment at sanduskyregister.com when it is broadcast.  

Witness goes foggy on ‘Dr. Phil’

Dr. Phil: Did you actually see him shoot himself? 

Brittany Bowers: Yes, but I don’t remember anything.

That’s a snippet from a promo airing on television for the “Dr. Phil” program. The promo also shows Mike and Shannon Limberios and a second witness to their son’s killing, Will Lewis, on the stage with Dr. Phil. 

Here’s another clip from the promo:

Lewis: “I’m just upset that I have to be here.”

Dr. Phil: “Well, is that inconvenient, for you?”

The program is set to air next month. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also plans to move on the criminal probe next month with a grand jury in Sandusky County. DeWine said multiple witnesses would be called to testify. 

The grand jury will also review reports of the AG probe and a report from Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York medical examiner, DeWine said. Baden reviewed autopsy reports and previous witness statements related to the investigation and could be called as a witness. 

Dr. Cyril Wecht, another well-known forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy for the family in September 2012, also could be a witness. He’s said Jacob was the victim of a homicide. 

It’s unclear if “Dr. Phil” is on the witness list. 

Two other pathologists, Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser and Kevin Whaley, a medical examiner with the state in Virginia, also could be witnesses along with family members, detectives and others with information. 


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