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Justice group revamping

Register • Feb 24, 2014 at 8:34 AM

The Justice for Jake & Ella group has more than 19,000 followers at its Facebook page, and a post on Sunday said the group was "revamping" its efforts to include "all the families affected by Sandusky County injustices." 

The post also asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to review his own findings in the investigation of Jacob Limberios' death March 2, 2012.

"After the J4JE crew reviewed and talked about Mike DeWine's investigation we feel it has been written that NO conclusion can be made factual that Jacob was holding the gun at the time of discharge," the post states.

All of the autopsies and subsequent examinations of the evidence determined there was no stipling — a burn or tattoo left when a weapon is fired at close-range — found at the entry and exit wounds. That is scientific evidence, the group contends, that shows Jacob could not have been holding the gun when it discharged. 

The group powered its Facebook Page "to inform the public" of the "injustices" that occurred and the refusal of local officials to conduct a competent investigation.

"We wanted people to be able to see the evidence we were seeing that the sheriff and Wukie refused to look at," Brady Gasser, a co-founder of the page, told the Register previously.

Sandusky County coroner John Wukie never conducted an investigation, but he refuses to correct Jacob's death certificate. Wukie maintains his ruling the death was a suicide that might have been accidental is correct, rejecting the findings of DeWine's investigation the gun that killed Jake accidentally fired.

Now the J4JE group wants to expand to include more information about the plight others have suffered. Its Facebook page has posted evidence the group has collected and evidence the Ohio AG and others collected during the 20 months after Jake was killed and has been promoting news articles about the struggle other families have had with Sandusky County officials on the page.

Click here to see Facebook page

There are two pending federal lawsuits against Sandusky County alleging wrongdoing by local officials in separate incidents. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also is currently conducting a criminal investigation into the jailhouse death of a man who was taken to the Sandusky County Jail, severely injured after a fight on Sycamore Street in Fremont, in 2007. 

The Burdine and Jones families are among at least at least a half-dozen residents with pending complaints against officials. 

Craig Burdine related articles

Craig Burdine, 37, died at the Sandusky County Jail on Aug. 7, 2007, after being dragged inside the jail by guards and Fremont police officers. Burdine already was suffering from severe burns, lacerations, cuts, brusing and a bleeding wound to his head when he was arrested. Fremont police cancelled an ambulance call to Sycamore Street after Burdine allegedly kicked an officer and became combative when they found him there, injured after a fight at a party.

He was transported to the jail but was not responsive when guards attempted to escort him inside. He died minutes after he was dragged into a shower room still handcuffed and shackled. Guards and the officers wrote statements about what they said occurred leading up to Burdine's death but were never questioned afterwards. Other witnesses also were not questioned after Burdine died.

Police cruiser dashcam video and jail surveillance video does not substantiate Burdine was combative, as police and the guards reported, and surveillance video from the room where Burdine died was not provided by the sheriff.

A spokesman for DeWine said there was no previous criminal investigation before DeWine agreed to conduct one last August. Jess Burdine, 80, who pressed DeWine to intervene, has been "fighting for justice" for more than six years, and contends the sheriff's office and Fremont police are covering up what really happened.

Burdine is a working man but spent his life savings — more than $300,000 — and took a mortgage out on his home seeking justice for his son.

"DeWine is my last hope for justice," Jess Burdine said during a recent appaerance on Between the Lines Live.

Wukie refuses to say whether he has reviewed the family's request that Craig Burdine's death certificate be corrected to reflect he was the victim of a homicide, or whether he's reviewed the evidence the family's brought forward. He's also refused to say how he was able to make a ruling without ever having a criminal investigation conducted.

The coroner also has refused to return telephone messages from the Register or provide a working email address for inquiries. His attorney, Dean Henry, has not responded to the requests or inquiries, either, and Henry refuses to provide a working email address for Wukie, or say whether he's reviewed the inquiries with Wukie. 

Sexploited inmate related articles

She was just 21 when she was jailed on a misdemeanor charge of telephone harassment in January 2012. A diagnosed schizophrenic, when she was incarcerated she did not have her medication. Jail guards, who knew of her illness, did not get her the medication. Instead, they placed her in an observational jail cell — one with windows — when she began to act out. The guards used the cell's intercom to instruct the woman to masturbate and encourage her to perform other lewd acts for six hours as they watched.

Mentally ill inmates are easy to abuse, one guard allegedly told a second guard. "Nobody believes anything they say," he allegedly told the other guard.

Two guards were fired after the Register published news articles related to the allegations. They were later paid $5,000 each after both agreed not to appeal the terminations or make any disparaging remarks about sheriff Kyle Overmyer. The agreement was arranged by Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt, whose investigator, William Kaiser, a retired sheriff's deputy, is the father of one of the jail guards, Frank Kaiser.

The woman's family filed a federal lawsuit against Sandusky County earlier this year.

Bryan Jones related articles

Bryan Jones, 26, was alone and asleep on a couch in his family's home when four Sandusky County sheriff's deputies went inside fully armed after he'd frightened family members and they called for help 90 minutes earlier. After going in, the deputies stood just 6 feet from Jones — who had a shotgun resting in his lap — but could not awaken him.

Instead of removing the weapon — which was later determined to be unloaded — the deputies lit a flashbang grenade and tossed it just feet away from the sleeping Jones. When he was jerked awake by the light and sound of the explosion they shot him nine times, blowing off his arm with the high-velocity ammunition in the automatic rifles they used. 

The family — and critics — have said there was no cause for deputies to go inside since Jones was asleep and nobody was in danger when he was killed. An internal investigation by now retired sheriff's detective Jim Consolo that was initially highly critical of the response team's decisions, was short-circuited by sheriff Overmyer. 

Jones' family, through Sandusky attorney Dennis Murray Sr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court that is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Isabel Cordle related articles

She was just 49 when she was killed in her home just west of Bellevue with one hatchet blow to her head. The killer struck her three more times with the axe before leaving. 

Isabel Cordle's family has lived with the image of that axe — propped against a tree where the killer left it — for more than 26 years. And they've lived with the suspicions cast on them by detectives who investigated after she was killed Jan. 24, 1988.

The Sandusky County Sheriff's Office named both Richard Cordle Sr., Isabel's husband, and their son, Richard Cordle Jr., who was 14 at the time, as suspects in Isabel Cordle's murder. But they didn't have any physical evidence to substantiate any involvement. The suspicion has followed the family for most of their lives and its haunted Richard Jr.

Stierwalt, who refuses to respond to inquiries or public records requests from the Register, apparently agreed to bring new evidence to a grand jury the first week of March, after putting the family off since late last year making the same promise to them previously through contact with sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell.

Richard Cordle Jr. and other family members said Stierwalt refuses to respond to their phone calls. O'Connell contacted them earlier this month, after the Register published a news article about the family's frustrations, and told them Stierwalt intended to go forward the first week of March.


The Register has been contacted by several other residents who have raised concerns about how emergency situations involving their family members were handled by Sandusky County law enforcement officials. A common theme in the complaints is the sheriff's office, Wukie, Stierwalt and others simply shut down communication with them and refuse to answer their questions or return phone calls.

Jess Burdine is especially irritated local officials refused to ever conduct a criminal investigation at all, after his son died.  

The Register will continue to request public records and seek out all available information to report this information as appropriate.

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