Popke denied, eligible for parole again in two years

A convicted child killer will remain behind bars after the parole board denied his release earlier this month.
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 28, 2013

But Craig Popke, 47, will get another shot at being released in fewer than two years.

Popke was convicted of murder in the 1990 death of 3-year-old Michael Wasserman, the son of Popke’s then-girlfriend, Peggy Wasserman.

Michael’s remaining aunts and uncles attended a Jan. 10 hearing to state their protest against Popke’s possible release.

Days before Michael died, Popke burned the boy’s legs in scalding water, leaving wounds festering without treatment. Michael died of blood poisoning and dehydration.

His mother was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter. She was released from prison in 2005.

A volunteer, who advocates for victims in blocking parole releases for heinous crimes in Ohio, was outraged about the decision.

“I’m happy he got denied,” said Bret Vinocur, of blockparole.com. “But that’s one of the shortest continuances I’ve ever seen. Period.”

“Thank God that family came forward,” he said. “I seriously believe he would have gotten paroled if they hadn’t.”

In similar cases where Vinocur has advocated for victims or their families, continuances are usually set at least five years out. But Popke will have another chance to be released in fewer than two.

“I’ve never in my life seen a child murderer like this,” Vinocur said.

At first, he was hoping the date was a clerical error.

“It’s a slap in the face to Michael Wasserman,” he said. “I’m just very disappointed in the short length of time.”

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said there is no standard length of time set between parole hearings.

“For whatever reason, they wanted to see this case again in a few years,” he said.

While Popke’s behavior in prison has been good, he hasn’t taken advantage of programs that could lessen the risk he would re-offend if he were released, parole board records show.

Popke also lacks insight into why Michael’s death happened, according to the parole board.

“For these reasons, due to the very serious nature of the offense, and after weighing all relevant factors, the Parole Board determines that the inmate is not suitable for release at this time,” the decision stated.

For now, Popke remains behind bars on a life sentence.



Totally agree. As should the individuals that know that abuse is going on, and turn a blind eye to it.


They both should have been punished the way Michael died. If they live then so be it. If not, they would have had a lovely funeral.


@deertracker....."Popke lacks insight into why Michael's death happened, according the the parole board".

That should tell you something about him right there. He shows no remorse for his crime. He hasn't taken advantage of anything that would assist him to get out of prison. He doesn't think he has done anything wrong.

That tells me this man has no consciences. He just plain does not care about taking a human life and he certainly doesn't care that he killed that child.

Whether you know this family or not is irrelevant at this point (forgive me for being blunt). Life isn't fair (that is why there are different bra sizes, pal). Unfortunately we all have to live with that.

He chose to be like this. There is something inside him that just doesn't give a dam about what he does. I would hate to see him get out and do this to someone else.

wouldn't you?


The Mother never should have gotten out of prison she is just as guilty for letting her son suffer .It was her boyfriend that did it but she is just as guilty it is her responsability to protect her children no matter what and from everyone that will hurt her children. They both should rot in prison that little boy will never have the opportunities and chances that god intended him to have with his life.

go bucks

He should rot in prison for what he did to this poor little helpless boy I can't even imagine the pain he went through it makes me so sad that not even his mother tried to save him. I would die for my kids as I think every normal mother would. After he rots in prison he will have to face God and then I'm pretty sure he or they will rot in hell