Unsolved Bellevue hatchet murder
Cold justice or no justice
Jan 25, 2014 at 4:34 PM
Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt has not followed through on a cold case that’s haunted Isabel Cordle’s family for more than a quarter of a century.
Sandusky County detectives say they’ve identified a suspect in Cordle’s gruesome killing Jan. 24, 1988, but it’s unclear if Stierwalt will take the evidence to a grand jury.
“No matter how busy he is, a 26-year-old murder should take priority,” Sherry Henry, 50, Cordle’s youngest daughter from her first marriage, told the Register on Wednesday. “It’s been long enough. It’s time we have peace. This has torn our family apart and it’s time for our family to heal”
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Stierwalt did not return numerous phone calls from the Register seeking comment.
It’s frustrating for Henry, who has turned over her mother’s killing in her mind for more than half her life, at one time believing a family member might have killed her mother. When the case was re-opened last year by Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, she and other family members became hopeful they might finally get answers.
Overmyer asked for and received assistance from the TNT network’s “Cold Justice” television show. Even though the program did not solve the case, she’s grateful for the attention it brought to the unsolved murder.
“Somebody finally listened,” said Sherry, who now lives in Avon, Ind. “We wouldn’t be where we are today or know what we know if that hadn’t happened”
Stierwalt’s refusal to make a decision or provide answers, however, has diminished that hope.
“It’s a waiting game for the prosecutor. I feel he could have, and should have done something,” she said, adding that it makes her angry the family can’t get any answers. “I believe they know what transpired and who killed my mother”
It’s been almost a year since Overmyer and sheriff’s detective Sean O’Connell teamed up with TNT series detectives on “Cold Justice,” and after the program titled “Hatchet” first aired on the network, O’Connell said he received tips that led to new evidence — enough to bring criminal charges against at least one suspect. “I personally feel there’s enough to take it to a grand jury” O’Connell said.
But it’s been about three months since he assured family members Stierwalt was reviewing the case file.
Today marks 26 years since Cordle was found murdered in her home.
When O’Connell visited Stierwalt’s office about three weeks ago, he said the prosecutor was sorting through the file on his desk, highlighter in hand.
“It’s been a long time coming for the family,” O’Connell said. “I hope we can get an indictment and I certainly hope we can get a conviction”
Still no justice
For Richard Cordle Jr., one of Isabel’s sons, the last year has been agony. “I’ve called and talked to them,” he said. “(Stierwalt) keeps putting me off. It’ll be next month, it’ll be next month, it’ll be next month. “I put it behind me after so long, and finally, I had a job. I was living, not too bad,” he said. He had two children and married his wife Rachel. Then the show came along. “Cold Justice” and Sandusky County investigators came to his home in Edgerton, brought him in for an interview and questioned him for hours as a suspect.
As in 1988, he told them he didn’t know who killed his mother.
Since “Hatchet” aired, in the past few months, Richard Jr. has lost his job as a stock person at Walmart after not performing well, affected by the trauma of reliving his mother’s death, he said.
He’s also started seeing a psychiatrist.
For 25 years, he heard nothing more from investigators about his mother’s death, he said.
In his interview for television, detectives threw blame on his father, for his mother’s death and the lack of followup to the investigation. “They said he did it because he never called and checked up on what was going on with it” Richard Jr. said. He once had hoped the reopening of the investigation might bring his family closer. But those feelings have changed. “I don’t think they’re going to charge anybody,” he said. “I’m looking at going possibly civil now”
Henry, however, is still hopeful, and she no longer believes her mother, who was just 49, was killed by a family member. “I know for a fact in my heart now that she was not killed by a family member,” she said.
“In the end the killer will get what he deserves in a courtroom, or he’s going to answer to God”