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Grand jury gets Bellevue killing

Register • Mar 9, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt presented evidence to a grand jury last week in the cold case killing of Isabel Cordle.

Richard Cordle Jr., who was just 14 when his mother was killed, said he was called to testify on Thursday and was disappointed in the process he observed.

“It's like a bad joke for our family,” he said.

Isabel Cordle was killed with one blow of an axe to her head Jan. 24, 1988, in her Bellevue home. The killer struck her three more times with the axe before leaving and propping the weapon against a tree outside the home.

In February 2013, Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer asked “Cold Justice,” a TNT network television program, for help solving the cold case. The program featuring the Isabel Cordle killing first aired on TNT in October.

The “Cold Justice” episode ends suggesting Richard Cordle Sr. as the only remaining suspect.

In the original investigation in 1988, Sandusky County sheriff's detectives developed a list of suspects that included Cordle Sr. and Richard Cordle Jr. One of the other suspects was Mark Carter, who was accused in 1987 of raping Cordle Jr.

Sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell, however, said new evidence developed after the program aired eliminated both Cordle Sr. and Cordle Jr. as suspects. He said the new information pointed to a different suspect.

In a plea agreement five months before Isabel Cordle was killed, Carter was convicted on a corruption of a minor charge and sent to prison. The sexual assault charges against him were dropped.

Carter was in prison when Isabel Cordle was killed, but family members conjectured he sought revenge because it was Isabel Cordle who pushed prosecutors to charge Carter for the assault of her son.

Evidence in Isabel Cordle's killing was presented to a grand jury in 1988 but no indictments were returned after that proceeding.

In January, O'Connell told the Register he was certain both Cordle Sr. and Cordle Jr. were not involved in Isabel Cordle's death. Some of the new information received after the “Cold Justice” program aired involved a 16-year-old boy, Greg Weller, who was the son of a sheriff's deputy.

“Greg Weller's name came back into play. Can I comfortably say Greg Weller is the one responsible for the murder? No,” O'Connell said. “Do I have reason to believe that this person was behind the murder of Isabel Cordle? Yes, I do.”

Cordle Jr. believes it was likely Carter who put Weller up to killing his mother. Greg Weller was listed as a potential witness for Carter in court documents prior to the plea agreement Carter reached with prosecutors on the rape charge against him.

Carter has maintained his innocence in any involvement in both Isabel Cordle's death, and the rape charge filed against him prior to her killing despite his guilty plea to a lesser charge.

Weller, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the time, died three years after Isabel Cordle was killed. His parents also are now deceased.

Cordle Jr. told the Register he talked privately with Stierwalt last week when he was in Fremont to testify in front of the grand jury. In that private conversation with Stierwalt, Cordle Jr. said the prosecutor questioned whether he was molested by Carter.

“He didn't come out and say he didn't believe Carter molested me. He said Carter 'allegedly molested' me,” Cordle Jr. said. “I told him if it were me and I was innocent, I wouldn't plead out the way Carter did.”

Carter sexually molested him in 1987, Cordle Jr. said, and he was surprised and angry Stierwalt would question the conviction of Carter related to it.

Cordle Jr. said other family members also were called to testify before the grand jury.

It was unclear Friday whether the grand jury will hear from additional witnesses or if it had begun deliberations.

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