The Ohio Attorney General's office has sought the assistance of Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner for the city of New York, to review the autopsy findings in the killing of Jacob Limberios.
Watch "Between the Lines Live" at noon Friday at sanduskyregister.com when the guests will be Brady Gasser, Christine Wiedle and Lonnie Seisel, who have spearheaded the "Justice for Jake & Ella" Facebook and signs campaign seeking answers and new legislation that would make autopsies mandatory in suspicious death cases.
Limberios died instantly March 2, 2012, inside a York Township home where he was with three other young adults, when he was shot in the head. Sandusky County officials almost immediately concluded his death was the result of an accidental suicide, and evidence from the crime scene was destroyed in the hours after he was killed. They closed the investigation without conducting an initial autopsy, but were forced to re-examine the death after the Limberios family filed a lawsuit seeking a competent ruling on the cause.
That subsequent local investigation was halted, however, in late May after a judge removed the Sandusky County sheriff's office and other county officials from it — citing conflicts of interest — and assigned the case to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The lead detective at that time, Sandusky County sheriff's captain Sean O'Connell, provided conflicting public statements about his investigation, initially indicating he believed one of the witnesses lied about what occurred. He later made statements that aligned with the original ruling, but never issued a report for release to the public or the family.
Baden has consulted on numerous high-profile cases including the deaths of actor and original Saturday Night Live cast member John Belushi and original punk rocker Sid Vicious. He also was involved in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson and other celebrity death cases.
He will be the fifth doctor and the fourth forensic pathologist involved in the Limberios case.
In Septemeber 2012, Dr. Cyril Wecht, another well-known pathologist based in Pittsburg who also has been involved in past celebrity death cases, conducted an autopsy on behalf of the Limberios family after Sandusky County coroner John Wukie refused to order an autopsy or offer any explanation about his unusual cause of death ruling. Wechrt concluded Jacob Limberios was the victim of a homicide.
Wukie did finally order an autopsy in May this year, however, which required the body to be exhumed from the Castalia Cemetery a second time. The second autopsy was conducted by Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser, whose findings cryptically concluded Wukie's original ruling might have been correct.
Dr. Kevin Whaley, an assistant medical examiner for the state of Virginia, also reviewed Wecht's and Beisser's findings and determined Jacob likely did not shoot himself, since there was no stippling, or burn, at the entrance wound in Jacob's skull. If the gun that killed Jacob had been held by him when it was shot there would be stippling at the wound, Wecht and Whaley concluded. Beisser also found no stippling but does not appear to have thoroughly addressed the question in her autopsy report.
DeWine assigned top prosecutors and investigators to the case and promised a "thorough investigation," but cautioned that getting the case 15 months after the death would be challenging. He also said he intended to answer all the questions raised by the Limberios family — through their attorney Dan McGookey — during their 18-month effort to "find out the truth about what happened on March 2, 2012." DeWine's office has been in contact with the Limberios family since taking the case in June, but has not provided any information otherwise about the investigation.
Meanwhile, friends of the Limberios family created a 'Justice for Jake & Ella" Facebook campaign to support the family and have been raising funds and posting signs across the region seeking answers.
Ella is Jacob Limberios' 4-year-old daughter.
The "Justice for Jake & Ella" effort also seeks to convince lawmakers in Columbus to enact legislation that would make autopsies mandatory in suspicious death cases.
Click here to read past articles, watch news video and see photo galleries.
Click here to read more about Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser and other articles in the Register series, "Stabbed, beaten, burnt and zapped."
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