Erie County officials work to block parole of child killer

The horrific death of 3-year-old Michael Wasserman in 1990 is not easily forgotten.
Jessica Cuffman
Dec 3, 2012


His killer, Craig Popke, is up for parole next month.

With no family members left to speak for Michael, it will be up to local agencies and a Columbus-based advocate to keep Popke from being released from serving his life sentence.

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter describes Michael's death as brutal and heinous, and the child as the most innocent of victims in a letter he sent to the parole board earlier this month, opposing Popke's release.

For more on the murder and who's helping to block Popke's parole, pick up a copy of Monday's Register.

Want to help?
Craig Popke, 47, is up for parole at Richland Correctional Institution on Dec. 27.
Popke was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the 1990 death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old boy, Michael Wasserman.
Michael suffered third-degree burns that eventually lead to his death after an excruciating three days.
To sign a petition to oppose Popke's release, visit


Just Thinkin

I do not understand? Mikey has no family member's left to speak up for him ? Was anyone contacted ? on his mother's side he has at least 40 plus member's who only found out today thru this story !!!, Mikey comes from large family on both sides!Maybe the Register should print some of the photo's of him after he died, If thier are no family member's then no one would object, and we can keep this monster behind bars, Sounds like this is being handled as the complaints of abuse toward Mikey was, No one knows nothing and no one checks anything out. I will tell you what will happen, the killer will get out, Then everyone will point finger's, and assign blame to the other person,Register I dare you to print the photo's they are graphic but then so was the murder.Craig needs to be locked up for life and without the shocking truth he may be freed, Mikey is resting out at Restlawn let him rest. May GOD BLESS all Children and may us adults protect them here on earth !

Just Thinkin

This is a PS for my earlier post, MIKEY SUFFERED FOR DAYS with third degree scalding burns from being set in scalding water he died after suffering with burns and infection, It was not a clean kill if you want to state it as that, cruel but true !Sign to block the murder from getting out PLEASE


Signed and shared on FB. Let him rot in his cell.


I signed!


This guy is a scumbag

Julie R.

Why are they saying there are no family members left? It's not like this happened fifty years ago. There must be SOMEBODY in the family that should be able to speak up.


Mikey does have family left! I am one of them and yes we are fighting!!!!!!!!! He was an innocent little 3 year old boy!! Craig is a poor excuse for a man that is going to rot in hell!! God will judge him and he will spend eternity in pain and misery!!!!


I signed and hope that it does some so sorry for your loss and how bad it hurts for it to be brought back in the media...heartbreaking and that manshould NEVER see the light of day again...bless you


Signed, I know the child's grandparents are still in town. Im sure they would like to say something about this

Mime Bloggling

"Authorities determined that Michael's burns resulted from Popke holding him under scalding hot bath water for an extended period of time. After removing Michael from the bathtub Popke put Michael into his bedroom where he suffered from three to five days before he died. Craig Popke and Peggy Wasserman did absolutely nothing to help Michael. Michael, likely screaming in pain for three to five days, died alone in his bedroom."

This excuse for a human being should never, ever be released. Why he did not get the death penalty is beyond my comprehension. There's a special place in hell for anyone that would murder such an innocent one as this child. Any parole board that would be so inclined to release him should follow him there.


I signed


I will sign.This animal should never be let out of jail!!!!


Isn't the mother out of prison? If so, WHY? She's a monster too!


Agreed.As should the people that KNEW the baby was beaten over in Norwalk. NO EXCUSES, NONE!

Jessica Cuffman

To answer some questions, I've been contacted by some family members of Michael's today. There will be a follow up story in the Register.


I signed....and so should you!!




I don't question the parole hearing. Given the sentence, he's served enough time to be considered. No, what I want to know is how a crime of this magnitude — the cruelty, the age and helplessness of the victim — could warrant an ANY-number-of-years to life sentence! This is a clearcut case of a crime warranting a "life without parole" sentence at a MINIMUM!

Oh, and for the record: While I can't argue the timing for consideration, I can and will argue that this is one man who should never, ever, EVER be free again.






The mother should still be in jail. She allowed this to happen adn did not report or help this child. She is no better than him. Children Services also fell down on the job again. They took him from his mother and boyfriend and then turned around and gave him right back. Keeping a child with a parent is not always the right thing to do and especially not in this case. They had no business putting him back into that home. This continues to happen and no one is accountable. Aren't they suppose to be the advocate for the child? This happened with the Baby Owen case, the case in Vermillion, etc. Why don't they have to answer for their actions? Just because someone is able to have a child doesn't make them a parent.


@ kris63063, the mother did serve time. She did not murder her child. She neglected her child..


If she let him lie there covered in burns, suffering for days, then yes she murdered him.


I could be mistaken, but didn't the poor boy have cigarette burns on his body also? It seems I remember this detail too.


click on link . ,then his picture on right (name) the story is under that.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

Just Thinkin

Yes, he also had burns


kris, the law requires that children be returned home within a certain period of time, unless that state is going to pursue termination of parental rights, which is extremely difficult and uncommon. Don't blame children's services, blame the laws and the judges.


Yes, Michael does have family members and the persons have been contacted to let them know that we are here. Signed Michaels Aunt


Good for you Tammy! I wondered why it said no other family members. Just got finished signing petition. This horrible day is still fresh in my mind after all these years. I hope they don't let him out. Poor little baby :' (


Signed. This man should never be released into society.


If they release this man we should all go down and shot the parole board. This man should NEVER get out. Signed it.


Signed. What a disgusting man!


Well, I guess we can always come up with a lintching mob?


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


I signed it.This ... should NEVER be let out. Some things just can' t be forgiven.


The link isn't working, but I'll find a way there. Why do we need to go to extra lengths to get common sense justice? I suspect much of our violent crime is committed by those who should never have been released from jail or prison. That's a fact in the city I live in. We need to know who is on parole boards so they too can be held accountable for their actions. Why are they kept a secret? The common citizen's info is not kept a secret, all your information is accessible immediately for public servants to access. That's fine, as long as criminals don't have more protection, and right now, they do. Now I'm out, going to find that petition.

he said she said

there is the website address


I will gladly sign this! I lost my almost 3 year old son back on November 16th 1998 in Sandusky, Ohio at the hands of a crackhead. The circumstances were way too similar when I started reading this and it immediately left a lump in my throat and brought back many painful memories. This monster should NEVER be allowed to walk the street again, let alone be allowed to breathe the same air. I agree the death penalty should of been put in place as I wanted the same for the murderer of my son but that didn't happen either. I only hope by me signing this it will help keep him in prison where he belongs, I also hope this petition is used when the man that murdered my son comes up for parole in 2024 and I hope it gets a LOT of signatures as well as this one! It's been 14 long years since my little boy was painfully taken from this world and yet it still feels like yesterday. I pray God takes care of all the innocent children that have been painfully taken from us and that the monsters that do these horrible things are brought to justice and the hand of God punishes them even more than our judicial system already has!


Mikey was my cousin! So the no family left bs is upsetting to say the least! We have a huge family and all of us remember this injustice. Poor big eyed Mikey :( and there were more than the burns from the bath. He has cigarette burns all over (one right on top of his lips) and many bruises. He suffered a, great deal and I wil NEVER forget why! This man should stay on jail so he can remember EVERYDAY why he's there!

I miss you mikey! Praying for your justice to continue!

he said she said

I am so sorry for what the poor baby went through and what your family is going through now!
I will keep you and your family in my thoughts


Mikey IS my cousin! He Is loved and will always be loved!!!!! As a family this is all so hard! Mikey never asked to be taken out of this world nor should he have been from anyone's hand! That is God's decision n his alone when we leave this earth! There will NEVER be justice served! Nothing will bring Mikey back!!!!!! Me and Mikey were close as can be we were together all the time! Were only 2 month's apart!!!!!!! I had my childhood with my best friend ripped away from me!!!!!! I know personally i want to thank everyone that is trying to help and keep Craig behind bars! Mikey was a wonderful little boy now all we have are memories and pictures! Life is not fair at times! But we can control this aweful poor excuse of a man getting out and having freedom!!!!!! N HIS family IS fighting!!!!!!

he said she said

I didn't know he was coming up for parole until someone put it on Facebook. I signed the petition. He should not get out of jail! The mother should not get out of jail either. She is just as guilty for not taking that baby to the ER to get help. They both should get the same thing that they did to that poor baby and let them lay in pain until they die.


I signed,shared and know that MANY others are doing the same. The d. a. m. n. criminals have more rights than we do. Erie Co. inmates are trying to settle some cases b4 some even go in front of the judge. My head tells me its wrong,but this mother/grandmother heart is glad. Guess that makes me un-christian like. Tell someone who gives a s***. I care more about these babies,than my reputation of playing nicely.


And the ones who choose to ignore these things going on,deserve to sit and rot also. WHEN are we going to get these laws changed to either life in prison,no t.v.,no health care,no visitors,etc...or rot till the end of time there. Neglectful, me me me mommies too.Enough is enough.

DEEPsix's picture

do you folks really think he's getting out??? Honestly, there is no way on earth the PB is going to parole him. He will do more than 30yrs, at least, and if he LIVES. inside, he will die one day.