This time around, they all knew the drill.
Head to the back of the cemetery, the new plot where the recent dead are buried.
No part of a cemetery is joyful, but this part was just plain heart-breaking. A teenager who died not long ago from huffing chemicals is buried front and center, a short jaunt from a 29-year-old who died of brain cancer last year. Other nearby markers seemed pretty fresh, too.
“This is the real sad section of the cemetery, over here,” said Jay Muratore. “A lot of younger people.”
Thursday afternoon, one plot in particular — the one hemmed in by makeshift walls of blue tarp — was the source of much grieving for about two dozen people, Muratore among them.
Under jay-blue skies and warm sunshine, the friends and family of Jacob Limberios laid his body into the ground, yet again.
It was the third time they’ve buried him, but it was no easier Thursday afternoon given that only hours earlier, an attorney representing Sandusky County sent a cryptic email to Dan McGookey, the attorney representing the Limberios family in a lawsuit.
“It was a threat,” McGookey said. “It was a threatening email. They are threatening to arrest us, for obstruction.”
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McGookey and Mike Limberios, Jacob’s father, don’t see their fight as obstruction. They see it as a fight for answers — a 14-month fight, to date. They’ve appealed for help, asking the public, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the FBI, anyone, to step forward and investigate Jacob’s March 2012 shooting death.
So far, no luck.
“I guess the interpretation of that is justice ends at the Sandusky County border,” McGookey said.
Without ever ordering an autopsy, and acting on information from a phone call with Sandusky County deputies at the crime scene that night, county coroner John Wukie logged it as an accidental suicide. Just hours after the shooting, Jacob’s body was sent to the funeral home. It was embalmed the next day.
Three witnesses in the home said Jacob shot himself. But the family wanted more answers, so they petitioned Sandusky County officials to order an autopsy. No luck there, either.
The family had Jacob’s body exhumed and sent to forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who later determined Jacob could not have killed himself.
It was a homicide, said Wecht, who also made a point to keep part of a tissue sample from the body as evidence for his findings. He sent a second sample to Sandusky County, asking them to have it tested.
Last week, despite protests from Jacob’s family, Sandusky County ordered the second exhumation of Jacob’s body. It was returned to the grave Thursday, after a Lucas County coroner examined it.
But now, Sandusky County’s specially appointed attorney, Dean Henry, wants Wecht’s tissue sample, too.
That’s not going to happen, McGookey said — he’s not turning over the only shred of evidence in his possession.
“They got their way, they got their pound of flesh,” McGookey said, referring to the second exhumation. “But now they want more. They want another ounce of flesh.”
Henry and Sandusky County officials have repeatedly refused to discuss their case in detail. Henry, in fact, has taken to lambasting the Register for its coverage of the case. He is the special prosecutor appointed to the criminal investigation.
In an email he sent Thursday morning to McGookey, Henry said he needs the tissue samples from Jacob’s body because they “are material evidence in a criminal homicide investigation.”
“Your actions in encouraging Dr. Wecht and/or others to withhold these tissue samples from law enforcement authorities is being done to impair their availability as evidence in this criminal investigation,” Henry stated in the email.
Dr. Cynthia Beisser, of the Lucas County coroner’s office, needs the tissue sample to conduct her analysis, according to Henry’s email.
The email also said McGookey’s actions are “ultimately aiding one or more person who may be responsible for Jacob Limberios’ death by causing delay in the investigation and possible prosecution of those persons.”
He closed the email: “At this point in time, I am assuming that none of you are aware of the legal significant of your intended actions. All of you should give serious consideration to consulting experienced criminal counsel before making any further decisions on how to proceed.”
McGookey is not relenting.
“Why should we trust anybody?” McGookey said. “Every one of them have done everything they can to make us distrust them. We can’t trust any of them.”
Donning sunglasses, jeans and a T-shirt as he stood by his son’s grave Thursday, Mike Limberios had little more to say. He thanked friends and family for attending the service.
The Rev. Bill Schroeder, of The Chapel on Galloway Road, said a few words about pain and suffering and death.
It was a good sermon, but Mike and his wife, Shannon, could have written it in their sleep.
They know all about pain and heartache, McGookey said.
“It’s like an open wound that isn’t allowed to heal,” he said. “It’s reopened every day, by the actions of Sandusky County officials.”