Ohio AG mum on status of case

Investigators remain mum about the status of a 2007 case involving a 37-year-old man who died in the custody of law enforcement in Sandusky County.
Jessica Cuffman
Dec 20, 2013


Investigators remain mum about the status of a 2007 case involving a 37-year-old man who died in the custody of law enforcement in Sandusky County.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agreed to revisit the case of Craig Burdine in August, at the request of Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt, who acted on inquiries from Burdine’s 80-year-old father, Jess Burdine, of Oak Harbor.

For six years, Jess has been seeking closure in what he says was a homicide.

Craig died after he was arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 11, 2007, and taken to the county jail after being unwanted at a friend’s home and found in a frenzied state

A coroner originally ruled Craig’s death a case of excited delirium.

But after years of probing the investigation and failed litigation, Jess questions other issues: the low level of methamphetamine found in his son’s blood work; a jail deputy’s use of a Taser to control Craig while he was in custody; and fractured cartilage in Craig’s neck the coroner found, but didn’t see as a contributor to his death.

Jess looked to DeWine’s office for help after the federal lawsuit he had filed against Sandusky County and Fremont officials was dismissed earlier this year.

Using two other Sandusky County cases as a guide — the 2010 death of 26-year-old Brian Jones, who was fatally shot by deputies, and the botched investigation of the 2012 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Jacob Limberios — Jess decided to seek out DeWine as a special prosecutor in the case.

It’s been four months since DeWine’s office opened its investigation, but inquiries this week into what has or has not been done went unanswered.

Spokeswoman Jill Del Grecco confirmed the case is still open, but refused to offer other information about where investigators are in the case. In response to a request with specific questions, she said: “Because the investigation is ongoing, we cannot provide any specific details at this time”

Jess has little faith anything in the case will change.

In September, state prosecutor Matt Donahue and an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent visited his home to talk about the case, he said.

About two weeks later, the agent returned with an assistant to copy documents Jess had sorted into a 3-foot pile, out of the 700 pounds of paper he’d collected in the investigation and court case.

“When they left here, they said I had presented an extremely difficult case,” Jess said Thursday. “They said unless they can find proof that Craig’s death was a homicide, not just testimony..”

As his voice trailed off, his lack of faith was evident.

“We’re not real hopeful that they’re going to do something,” he said. “Everything was negative”

He hasn’t heard from DeWine’s office since October.

“We’re just patiently waiting for an answer. We’ve certainly given them many, many facts of proof” he said.

In November, DeWine’s office delivered their findings in the Limberios case, saying the 19-year-old shot himself in the head when he was with friends in a York Township home on March 2, 2012.

The Attorney General took over the case after months of battle between Sandusky County officials and the Limberios family, who questioned the actions deputies took during the brief investigation into the teen’s death and the coroner’s ruling that he committed suicide.

While the investigation has been completed, the Limberios family is still fighting to have the ruling on his death certificate changed from “suicide” to “accidental”

The Jones family, too, continues their fight for justice in the courts. Jones was killed by Sandusky County deputies when they responded to a domestic dispute at his family’s home.

Last month, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit they filed against Sandusky County — alleging their son’s wrongful death — will go to trial.


White Owl

Yet again, instead of requesting the State to investigate official misconduct, all parties with claims of official misconduct against area law enforcement (Erie, Ottawa, and Sandusky counties and the Lucas County coroners office) need to get together and insist the USDOJ criminal civil rights division take a look at the long pattern of misconduct and abuse of power in this area. IMO, political pressure needs to be applied to Congresswoman Kaptur's office.

sandtown born a...

Sandusky really who would have thought that


Since they went to Dewine, I wouldn't expect anything to be thoroughly done in this case either!...Is it that hard for everyone to see that something corrupt is running amuck in Sandusky county!?!?!? I agree with White Owl, take it somewhere else and demand that something be done, otherwise, Dewine will just stand behind whatever Sandusky county says, AGAIN!!


You guys are a complete joke. Things don't go the way you want them, then the investigating agency is inept or corrupt. Now had they ruled in favor on any of the cases listed above, you all would be saying what a wonderful job the AG's office did. Give it a rest with all the bs of corruption and cover ups. There hasn't been a single piece of evidence supporting either allegation. The AG's office isn't going to jeopardize their reputation for a small town like fremont or even sandusky county. So until there is a single shred of evidence of corruption or cover ups, you can all save your breath.

White Owl

So it's acceptable to you to have state law enforcement agencies investigate themselves? The AG's office and BCI have a very poor reputation in terms of quality law enforcement and the high degree of politics.

One need only look East to Cuyahoga County to find overwhelming evidence that state law enforcement officials do a poor to non existent job in terms of investigating public corruption and official misconduct.


I'm not sure where in my comment I said it was ok. So let me sum it up this way. There has been no proof of any corruption or cover ups presented to the public. All that's been given is speculation and opinion. People may not like the way things were handled in any of these cases, but that doesn't mean corruption or cover up. Botched investigation definitely, but that doesn't add up to corruption.


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"An autopsy by Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr.Cynthia Beisser revealed that Burdine had a purple contusion on the left side of his neck, as well as blood in both sternocleidomastoid muscles (at the sides of the neck) and the adjacent soft tissue. She also noted that the left horn of Burdine’s thyroid cartilage was fractured"


(LINK removed, blocked by SPAM filter)
"Years before his death, Craig Burdine successfully sued neighboring law enforcement agencies. His federal lawsuit against the city of Port Clinton, Ottawa County, and individual defendants contended he was subjected to excessive force at the Ottawa County jail following a 1996 arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

He suffered “physical and psychological injuries” because of that incident and had hallucinations and nightmares “of being pursued, beaten, and killed by police,” according to court filings.

A federal jury awarded him $600,000 in the case."


(LINK removed, blocked by SPAM filter)
"Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser ruled Craig’s death an accident caused by drug-induced excited delirium. In her autopsy report, Beisser took note of his injures — extensive external blunt trauma, internal bleeding, and fracturing of the cartilage in his neck"

Blunt force trauma, internal bleeding and fractured cartilage of the neck. Notice how the SPAM filter blocks my links and shuts down the truth.


(LINK removed, blocked by SPAM filter)
"Former Sandusky County jail guard Frank Kaiser readily admitted during court proceedings that he pinned Craig down in a jail shower room, after Fremont police delivered Craig to the jail following his arrest."
"Frank Kaiser is the SON of retired Sandusky County Deputy Bill Kaiser, who currently works as an investigator for county prosecutor Tom Stierwalt. Frank was fired last year by Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, after Frank was implicated in the sexual exploitation of a mentally ill inmate at the jail."
"At 350 pounds, Frank Kaiser, according to court documents, placed his knee on Craig’s back when the inmate was face-down, his arms behind him and handcuffed as jail personnel tried to wash from his eyes the mace that Fremont police had used to subdue him minutes earlier."

"Moments later, after he started to vomit and officers called for paramedics, Craig was dead."

As you can see, the Sandusky Register is blocking all of my links, including links to past Sandusky Register news stories.