Witness in Sandusky crime killed on Michigan highway

A witness to a Michigan man’s Erie County crime was found shot to death on the side of I-75 in Detroit on Friday.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 12, 2013

The body of Jennifer Scavone, 32, was found inside her bullet-ridden SUV on the shoulder of the highway at about 3:40 a.m. Saturday, according to a local newspaper, The Macomb Daily.

The Roseville, Mich., native was a witness to a case against Josef Zbercot, 32, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of gross sexual imposition in Erie County Common Pleas Court on Friday, according to court records.

Only hours later police found Scavone’s body.

No one has been charged in the shooting.

Michigan State police have been in touch with Sandusky detectives about Zbercot.

“I don’t want to jeopardize an ongoing state investigation, but we have been talking,” Sandusky police Sgt. Dana Newell said Monday.

Friday, Zbercot pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition in exchange for two other charges being dismissed, a second charge of gross sexual imposition and one count of assault.

While he isn’t set for sentencing until March 21, he agreed to serve 60 days in jail as part of the plea agreement, be placed on probation, and be required to register as a Tier II sex offender, according to court documents.

He’ll be required to register every six months with his local sheriff’s office for 25 years.

Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone ordered a pre-sentence investigation before continuing Zbercot’s $40,000 bond. Zbercot posted bond shortly after his indictment and arrest in September 2012.

His charges came from a July 15 incident at Quality Inn on Cleveland Road, where he and an 11-year-old boy were staying after a night of bowling at Thirsty Pony.

Months later, the boy told his mother Zbercot had been drinking, and that when they got back to the hotel they started wrestling. The boy said Zbercot bit him twice, then forced the boy to grope him.

Zbercot denied the allegations — he said he remembered wrestling with the boy, but he didn’t remember any of the other alleged actions.

When reached by The Macomb Daily Sunday, Zbercot refused to comment on Scavone’s death.

Erie County court documents list Scavone as a witness in Zbercot’s case.

Scavone was on I-75 on her way home from work as a shot girl at a club in downtown Detroit when she apparently stopped on the freeway, according to the newspaper.

A highway employee spotted Scavone’s SUV idling at the side of the highway and stopped to help. He then noticed her body slumped over the steering wheel and bullet holes in the side of the vehicle.

On Monday the Wayne County medical examiner ruled Scavone’s death a homicide, according to The Macomb Daily.
 

Comments

mikel

wow! so sad.

Lloyd Christmas

Here's a better article I found.

"Jennifer Scavone's friends and co-workers say she was a kind, uplifting woman and a good mother. But early Saturday, just after leaving her waitressing job in downtown Detroit, the 32-year-old was gunned down as she drove on I-75 toward home.

While authorities continued Monday to investigate the slaying of the Sterling Heights woman, details on a Macomb County custody case with the father of one of her two children emerged.

Scavone had sought to have Josef Zbercot's visitation rights terminated after he was charged last summer with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in Erie County, Ohio, court records show.

Zbercot of Roseville was indicted by an Erie County grand jury on two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of assault, according to Erie County Common Pleas Court records. Zbercot had a court date in Ohio on Friday, according to records filed last month in the custody case in Macomb County Circuit Court. A jury trial is set for later this month.

The prosecutor in Erie County could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Scavone's body was found slumped over the steering wheel of her GMC Yukon on the left shoulder of northbound I-75 between Leland and Warren, about a quarter-mile east of the Detroit Medical Center. A Michigan Department of Transportation courtesy van driver found Scavone about 3:40 a.m. after he approached the SUV to see whether the driver needed help.

Michigan State Police said the SUV had been struck by several bullets, but didn't know whether the vehicle was moving or stopped when it was fired upon.

Her autopsy found she had multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.

On Monday afternoon, State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said no one was in custody. He declined to discuss specifics about the case.

Scavone was shot not long after she left her job at Bouzouki, a gentleman's club in the Greektown area. Heather Raye, a manager at the club, said she saw Scavone walk to her vehicle after leaving work about 2:30 a.m. and headed home.

"We're very confident in the fact that what happened to her had nothing to do with her work environment or with the downtown area," Raye said, adding she believes her friend was targeted.

Raye said Scavone was loved at work and was "a great mom." She said Scavone and her fiancé had recently purchased a home with plans of building a life together.

"She was a really great person. She was kind and sweet, very uplifting," Raye said. "She just made you feel really good to be around her."

Members of Scavone's family could not be reached for comment. Attorneys for Scavone and Zbercot did not return calls for comment.

The custody case in Macomb County dates to 2003, when Scavone complained that Zbercot failed to provide child support for their son, who was born in 2001. The court granted her request. She had sole custody, but Zbercot had parenting time and had to pay $174 a month in child support.

Later that year, Scavone filed a motion requesting an alternative drop-off location for parenting time exchanges. Scavone alleged that Zbercot was physically and verbally abusive to her throughout their relationship and that he punched, hit and strangled her and referred to her as "s**t," "w***e" and "b***h" in front of the child at parenting time exchanges.

Last August, Scavone filed a motion requesting a change in parenting time.

In a handwritten note, Scavone said she would like the court to suspend and/or terminate rights and parenting time until the investigation in Erie County was over and the outcome of any criminal charges was known. She wrote that the case was in the hands of a prosecutor in Ohio, where the incident occurred.

In September, Zbercot responded, requesting Scavone be held in contempt of court for denying access to his son and that he be awarded makeup parenting time since Aug. 1, 2012."

samiam

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

Contango

I'm sure that a woman will always meet the nicest guys at Gentleman's Clubs.

Sad.

rejectedmantis

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

Contango

.

Licorice Schtick

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

Contango

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

Perkins2060

Bouzouki's is a great place! Been there many times!

happyfeet64

Re: Contango- Why are you making the assumption they met at a gentlemen"s club? You don't know. That's like saying a woman deserve's to be raped if she's wearing a mini skirt and heels.

Contango

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

bigrmachine

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

Julie R.

If you want to get technical about it --- if it wasn't for stupid men hanging out in clubs "that more than likely featured scantily-clad employees", then women (i.e. moms) wouldn't be out trying to make a living by pouring the drinks for the stupid men! (can't have it both ways now, ya know)

Trustafarian

Sounds like someone still holds a grude against Craig Smith.

Julie R.

So who cares if she was pouring drinks in a club for a living? The lady was MURDERED.

samiam

Sad that some folks assume that she wasn't a good parent or person. Sounds like she had her children's best interests at heart, if she was trying to keep this guy from being with their child. Maybe she took the job because it paid her enough to help provide a decent place for her and her children to live. How sad for her family.

TheScientist

So he possibly put a hit out on his ex because she was a witness and was going to testify against him. She essentially was killed for protecting her child. Such a shame. Thoughts and prayers to her children and her loved ones. Hopefully the LEOs can do their job and connect Zbercot to her murder.

wiredmama222

This is just awful. I hope they catch whoever did this and lock them away for the rest of their unholy lives. How unfair can this be for the children remaining. This makes me sick to my stomach.

yogiberra

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

Trustafarian

Lots of innocent dads plead guilty to GSI on their son.

Ithink

Really Yogiberra? That kind of thinking is as sick as this case is.

Seen it All

Where did you read that the 11 yr old boy in question in the Erie Co case is HIS son? Perhaps the mother of his son was a witness to this man's character. For ex. he would drink himself into blackouts regularly, and become physically violent while doing so!?!

Trustafarian

The custody case in Macomb County dates to 2003, when Scavone complained that Zbercot failed to provide child support for their son, who was born in 2001. The court granted her request. She had sole custody, but Zbercot had parenting time and had to pay $174 a month in child support.

Seen it All

Could be a friend of the son?

The Big Dog's back

Wow winnie, you out did yourself on this one. Blame the victim.

Pterocarya frax...

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

grinenbareit

It's so sad that this woman MAY HAVE died protecting her son. I don't care what her personal choice of employment was, obviously her son must have been well taken care of, or she would not have maintained custody of him. It's also obvious that there is a great possibility that her murder could be a connection with her testifying to protect her son. May your rest in peace Jennifer, and I pray for your son as well.

rjk1915

This could very possibly result in vigilante justice.

Contango

Obviously the concept of personal responsiblity is passe and the adage, "We're all victims now," rules the current social thinking.

KURTje

Yeah right..."I ain't a Christain." This was a human life. I remember too what some here said about the murdered lady who in the past sold herself. All of us have done wrong...don't act like yours don't stink.

Pages