Judge gives go-ahead to dig up Jake Limberios

FREMONT — Sandusky County special prosecutor Dean Henry plans to move quickly on second exhumation and autopsy despite family's objections.
Jessica Cuffman
Apr 24, 2013


A judge has decided to let the Sandusky County coroner exhume the long-buried body of shooting victim Jacob Limberios.

Visiting Judge Charles Wittenberg entertained nearly two hours of debate between warring sides Tuesday before making his ruling. 

Dan McGookey, the attorney for Jacob’s family, faced off against attorney Dean Henry, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case and who is also representing coroner John Wukie.

“I’m not sitting here without having some feelings about this case,” Wittenberg said. He then lifted the temporary protection order he imposed earlier this month, which had halted the planned exhumation, and he also denied McGookey’s request for a permanent order to keep authorities from exhuming the body. 

Wittenberg said Ohio law does not allow him to keep Wukie from ordering a second autopsy to further the criminal investigation into the March 2, 2012, shooting death. 

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Jacob’s parents, Shannon and Mike Limberios, already had the body exhumed for an autopsy in September 2012, after Sandusky County officials refused to reopen the investigation into Jacob’s death. Jacob died from a single gunshot to the head, which Wukie quickly ruled an accidental suicide, although he had never actually visited the crime scene.

Only after McGookey filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Limberios family did Sandusky County officials reopen the investigation. It became a criminal matter in December when Dr. Cyril Wecht — a forensic pathologist hired by the Limberios family — sent Henry a letter that said Jacob’s death was a homicide. Wecht also called Wukie’s ruling an “oxymoron,” as a suicide cannot by nature be accidental. 

After Tuesday’s hearing, Henry said Jacob’s body will be exhumed and examined as soon as possible.

“As soon as I get the judge’s order, I’ll be communicating with everybody,” he said.

The autopsy will be key to the criminal investigation, which Sandusky County detectives continue to push forward, Henry said, declining to elaborate. 

Jacob’s parents said they do not understand the need for their son to be dug up a second time.

“We’re not done,” McGookey said after Tuesday’s hearing. “We’re going to adjust to this and then respond.”

He may file motions in Erie County courts, or with the Ohio Supreme Court.

“This is just another blow with the last 13 months,” McGookey said. “It’s just an unbelievably horrible situation. The Limberios family has been victimized every day.”




What happened with the other judges and the ex parte communication?


One judge removed herself, the other did not. The judge that stayed on basically said there was nothing to remove himself from because there is no case number.

Julie R.

Why would there be no case number?


If there's no case with no case number then there is no case for a judge to remove himself from. He won't be making any decisions about a case, either civil or criminal, because he is not assigned to any case involving this matter. If he is assigned a case involving this matter in the future, then he will have to make the decision whether to remove himself at that time if an appropriate and timely motion is filed in the case he is assigned to hear. Seems pretty simple and makes perfect sense.


Did we all miss the Sandusky Register's "top notch professional" coverage explaining what happened to the judge being replaced? Seems to be a kind of important bit of information.

Joe Schmoe

How ridiculous Sandusky County is making themselves look. I would be embarrassed to show my face if I was a Sandusky County commissioner for allowing this to continue. Cover up after cover up after cover up. I hope this family owns Sandusky County when this is done. Wukie, Overmeyer,and Henry will be pulling weeds and landscape duty for this family when it's finally over with. That's if their not all behind bars


The Sandusky County Commissioners have absolutely no control over other elected officials including the Prosecutor, Sheriff, Coroner, or Judges. Don't blame the Commissioners for screw ups by other elected officials.


Where have I heard this before.. they take out the body, study it AGAIN, and more then likely don't change the cause of death.. Family gets pissed and goes harder for Dewine.. Then it all starts again, and over and over and over.. Sometimes, bad things happen. Sometimes we are forced to live with the fact that we may never know what happened. Let the boy rest in peace, and begin to rebuild instead of rehashing the past.


Is that what you think Jacob's daughter needs to hear when she starts asking what happened to her daddy? Stop "...rehashing the past"?


It's not even about her asking what happened. She'll grow up without a father. Nothing is going to change that. The truth needs to come out because the truth needs to come out and Sandusky County needs to be held accountable for their incompetency. They did a poor job from the start. An autopsy should have been done immediately. Thank Goodness Wukie doesn't do autopsies. WHY, why, WHY did he declare a cause of death without viewing the body? I don't understand, will never understand. You read about suicides where someone left a note and they STILL do an autopsy. Here you have 4 kids, alcohol and a gun and one kid dead and nobody questions anything about the facts? I've read the witness statements...there are some inconsistencies and now they've had a year to get their stories together? A thorough investigation at the time could have changed everything. I understand the emotion of all of this, I am a parent and I too, lost my father at a young age, not to anything like this, but the cause of his death doesn't change the impact of growing up without a father.


duplicate post


The thing is Chongo, that if they had done their job correctly the first time, none of this would be happening. Sandusky County was negligent and I think that even if they would admit some of their mis-steps it would make a difference. Explain WHY the coroner would rule a death without seeing the body, explain why they wouldn't send for an autopsy anyway? 4 kids, a gun, alcohol and one of them dead.....I agree with you on one point, sometimes you have to live with the fact that bad things happen and sometimes you have to accept it. But there is much more to this than meets the eye and the County did a shoddy job getting all the facts.


This case would be fascinating, if it weren't so stinking sad. To state the obvious the problem here is the County should have done an autopsy to begin with. But they didn't. Now they are being asked to rely on one that was done by someone who was hired by the boys parents and their attorney, and the County doesn't trust those results and NOW wants to do their own. At this point there will be no resting in peace until everyone is satisfied they are looking at an unbiased autopsy. So I agree with the judge: Let them do their own autopsy. I'd like to think the results of this one will not be biased. Easy for me say, though. Its not my child.


Agree. It's sad for the family but the Judge made the right call. If anyone really wants to get to the truth, an autopsy is necessary and whatever was done by Dr. Wecht is unlikely to be sufficient.


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he said she said

It's a sad situation when we don't know how our children have died and I understand the family wants to know what happened to their son but this child needs to rest in peace.

IMO the parents are searching for answers that they want to hear instead of the answers that are being given to them. I sincerely hope that this is the last time that this child's final resting place is disturbed and he can finally rest in peace.


I think that the parents are searching for answers not to what they want to hear, but the truth. There are a lot of things that went wrong here. Starting with the night of the shooting and the coroner who obviously couldn't be bothered to do the job the COUNTY TAXPAYERS PAY HIM TO DO and view the body and to send it for an autopsy. If you've been following at all, there are many many many reasons why they think he did not pull the trigger.


@he said she said- you think the parents are searching for answers 'they want to hear instead of the answers that are being given to them'. If this were my child, I would go to the ends of the earth to get the truth about he death. That's what Mike and Shannon are doing. They just happened to be met with inadequate county officials and this case has snowballed. Don't blame the parents- they asked one question-'how did Jacob really die?' they weren't expecting all this incompetence and cover-ups. I'm sure they don't want it, either.


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


What a terrible headline, SR!!! What a poor choice of words "dig up" !! It shows no compassion for his family. A body is exhumed, potatoes are dug up. I think moderators should remove this headline because it shows disrespect for both Jake and his family.

BULLISDEEP's picture

exhume [ɛksˈhjuːm]
vb (tr)
1. to dig up (something buried, esp a corpse); disinter
2. to reveal; disclose; unearth don't exhume that old argument
[from Medieval Latin exhumāre, from Latin ex-1 + humāre to bury, from humus the ground]
exhumation [ˌɛkshjʊˈmeɪʃən] n
exhumer n


When the family did it, it was "exhumed." When the county does it, it's "dig up." No slant there.


armymom7, "dig up" is the phraseology that (at least some of) the family and friends prefer. This is because "it shows no compassion for his family" from figures like Dean Henry.


I thought the staff at the Register writes the headlines. Since when do participants in a newspaper story get to decide what words are used in a headline? It certainly would be quite odd if they did.


Case in point. The law and Wukie did NO forensics and just decided what to do with the words of/from three drunk young adults who had time to convolute the story before the cops even arrived on the scene. Their statements after the fact did not coincide. Evidence was allowed to be tossed. An investigating prosecutor is also the defense for Wukie.

I don't see how those facts can be distorted. Not to mention the judges involved.


One has to realize that this case, (whether it has a number or not) is eating at those who are in charge in Sandusky Co. As it should. It may not be in the forefront of their everyday duties, but they go to sleep and wake up thinking about it. They have to know that "rest" is not an option until this is settled and EVERYTHING comes to light.


I think if it were my son, after I had his body exhumed and examined by one of the country's best forensic examiners I would have had his body cremated...now Sandusky County your move, what do you do now?


If I were the family, I would have had the body cremated after the first exhumation but it could have hurt their civil case against Sandusky County officials so it was wise not to do it. Some screw ball jurror might think the family was trying to hide evidence if the body was cremated even though that is the farthest thing from the truth. You never know what kind of screw balls might be on a jury.