AUDIO: Wukie talks

Listen to Sandusky County coroner John Wukie explain suicide in interview with BCI
Register
Dec 27, 2013

Listen to the interview below.

Sandusky County coroner John Wukie had no doubt how Jacob Limberios died when he talked with a BCI agent Oct. 10.

“Unfortunately, when someone puts a gun to their head and they can't tell us anything beyond that point we have no way to know what their intention was.”

The interviewer, Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent Charlie Snyder, picks up on that response.

“Do you believe that establishing intent is necessary to rule a death as a suicide?” he asks Wukie.

“I have not in the past,” Wukie responds. “I think there are writings in two different camps on that...I've made a statement in (another) newspaper in the past that I didn't believe that intent was necessary to establish suicide.

“If someone puts a gun to their head and pulls the trigger and it goes bang, I've ruled all those suicides for the last 20 years,” Wukie tells Snyder. “In this region of the state the feeling is that if someone puts a gun to their head and pulls the trigger and it goes bang and they die we call those suicides.”

Click below for the audio of Wukie's interview 

 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sees it differently. After a four-month investigation, his office determined the gun used to kill Jake was defective and his death was unintentional. 

“Everything just totally points to an accident,” DeWine told the Register. “We have no evidence he killed himself at all.”

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Comments

Kottage Kat

What would he call Russian Roulette?

Commenter

In my opinion Russian Roulette IS Suicide. You know that gun is loaded and you pull the trigger?? Unless I don't know what it really is?

White Owl

Months ago, I found Dr. Wukie's finding of "accidental suicide" to be ludicrous. But as the story unfolds and facts come out to demonstrate that "accidental suicide" was a creation by this newspaper, Dr. Wukie's explanation increasingly makes sense to me. Providing the audiotape is a good example of why context matters.

As hard as this is for the SR and others to accept, the fact is the cause of death is a medical-legal determination made by a doctor not an attorney or journalist. AG DeWine is not qualified to make the determination, nor is Attorney McGookey. A change in cause of death is made through a coroner's inquest, not through a grand jury proceeding.

Arguably, DeWine made a false statement as he is quoted in the article "We have no evidence he killed himself at all" when in fact all the evidence as found by the grand jury points to Jake holding the gun when it discharged. So, Jake did in fact kill himself.

The issue was and remains was Jake's conduct in mishandling and holding a loaded gun to his head while under influence of prescribed drug(s)for an unstated mental health issue, so reckless as to form a reasonable basis of intent to kill oneself. It's a tragedy, but I think Dr. Wukie's finding is defensible.

Dying as a result of willingly playing Russian Roulette is analogous, and IMO the finding would be suicide. However, in both the Limberios case and the hypothetical Russian Roulette case, one would hope that the law enforcement officers, officials, journalists, and lawyers would have conducted themselves with far more professionalism than occurred in the Limberios case.

Jmschmidt812

Dr. Wukie has made a comment that I never thought about until he said it. He said something like, you don't know someone's intent after the trigger is pulled and the gun goes boom. There may have been intent but that's something nobody will ever know. There's a reasonable amount of certainty that death could result from putting a gun to ones head, especially a gun with a hair trigger. This is just a sad story that keeps getting brought up. No matter what new evidence may be found, it will never change the single fact that this young man died.

Ithink

Your opinions would be more valid, had said coroner gone to the scene of a dead gunshot victim or, at the very least, ordered an autopsy. Since he was the only qualified person- medically speaking- to make the determination of cause of death, and he CHOSE to do neither, your opinion holds no value. IMO.

Sam

So either he intentionally caused his own death or he caused it by acting recklessly, either way you would hope this newspaper would stop from its constant rehashing the same story line of its agenda and bias. I think people on both sides of the issue has made their decisions without further replay of the same facts..

Commenter

I think both sides have decided that they are right no matter what and have blinders on to not see another point of view.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Sam. This story represents the first comments directly from Dr. Wukie in more than 20 months. I'm not sure how that would be considered re-hashing the same story line since this information was never published previously. If you're tired of this story perhaps there is something else in the Register's news stream that might interest you. Thanks again for the comment.

Commenter

It's the first in more than 20 months on this particular topic. Matt, please don't be so arrogant to not admit you have run a lot of angles to this story.

Matt Westerhold

I readily admit, there are a lot of angles to this story, and the Register has reported on many of them. 

Ithink

Matt- Please don't stop shedding light on ANY information you have concerning this tragedy. I have told the naysayers to skip these articles on many occasions. Yet, they continue to read the material AND feel it necessary to comment on the stories they so readily admit they are tired of reading about. Ironic and moronic.

Sam

Matt you have to admit no recent subject has had this amount of articles, many of them are rehashes of prior articles. The perception of bias comes from the attorney that represents the family also has a weekly column in your newspaper that clearly favors his major practice of law and is the only column that doesn't allow comments.

White Owl

Is the column really a form of paid advertising for the attorney? If it's really an advertisement, that would explain the lack of comments. It would also explain the co-dependency between the SR and the attorney.

It's as if the newspaper is financially incentivized to work with the attorney on one side of the litigation. We've seen this one sided reporting before in the Zinc litigation.

Also, to the lawyers out there: Is a foreclosure/business attorney qualified to litigate a case of alleged official/police misconduct?

Matt Westerhold

These suggestions are silly. They seem to be red herrings designed to divert attention from the information that's reported. If you want to refute the reporting, refute the reporting. Don't make stuff up. 

White Owl

Matt: Why don't you answer the question? Is the column a form of paid advertising? If I'm making it up, then come out and deny that the SR receives ad revenues from the attorney either directly or indirectly. The so called "red herring" (legal term) is your post designed to divert attention from the likely financial relationship with the attorney. Did he direct your post?

Also, it was obvious that the SR was taking the sides of the law firm that represents Zinc and was providing misleading information about the suit. You took down the comments after it was pointed out that the true facts were available on line from court documents and that Zinc's lawyers had likely entered false documents.

Furthermore, the competency of the attorney with little to no experience in the area of civil rights/official misconduct law is a valid question.

Finally, thank you for providing the audio tape. It helped confirm for me that Dr. Wukie's initial determination was not based on some devious desire to cover up a homicide but to protect the family from the grim reality that their son was deeply troubled and took his own life either intentionally or through a reasonably foreseeable extremely reckless action.

IMO, had the family received competent legal representation (who wasn't looking to create a lawsuit or a big insurance payout) at the onset maybe Sandusky County officials would not have been so combative and the family could begin to grieve.

Matt Westerhold

There is no financial relationship or advertising relationship as you suggested and your comments are inaccurate and silly. There also is no information that Jacob Limberios was "deeply troubled" or that "he took his own life,"  and "protecting" the family, as you suggest, by putting inaccurate information on a death certificate seems to be an inappropriate course of action.  

White Owl2

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.

White Owl2

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

White Owl2

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Jmschmidt812

Seems like you're being censored because you have asked to many questions or have hit a nerve.

White Owl

The audiotape as published by the SR is extremely helpful to understanding Dr. Wukie's position and is new information. However, given that Dr. Wukie is the only official who can change the cause of death through a Coroner's Inquest, it makes sense to stop the name calling and assaults on his integrity.

Sam has IMO accurately presented the two scenarios: 1) Jake intentionally put the gun to his head and intended to kill himself in front of the witnesses; or 2) Jake recklessly put the gun to his head in front of witnesses and his recklessness caused his death.

The challenge for Attorney McGookey is to present a compelling case to Dr. Wukie through an Inquest that Jake's reckless behavior did not rise to a level of intending to shot oneself so that Dr. Wukie reverses himself. IMO, that's going to be a tough sell in view of the extremely hostile comments and ill will publicly directed at Dr. Wukie.

deertracker

Number 1 is suicide. Number 2 is accidental.

deertracker

If you don't know what one's intent was how an you say it was suicide? Some of you are trying to redefine what suicide actually means. Those of you that really believe you can accidentally on purpose kill yourself are just DUMB! Period!

Sam

You put a loaded firearm to your head, that is an intention act. If death results was that intentional or an accident? Does a mentally capable person put a firearm to their head? If a mentally ill person commits suicide is that intentional or the result of the illness? Once again calling others dumb reflect back towards you PERIOD!

Matt Westerhold

Hey Sam, you neglected to mention the gun purportedly has a hair trigger, the failed lie detector tests or the Attorney General's findings after a four-month investigation, or mention that Wukie did not conduct any kind of investigation. He can't even remember why he couldn't go to the house where Jake was killed on March 2, 2012. 

Suicide seems to be becoming a malleable and convenient explanation in difficult circumstances. Sandusky County sheriff's deputies shot and killed Bryan Jones in July 2010 from near point-blank range after using a flashbang grenade to wake him up. One explanation from public officials was that Jones "committed suicide by cop" as he was sleeping. That's an explanation that does not seem to be at all plausible, similar to the current explanations being put forward for this "suicide." 

Simple Enough II

Mr. W, you use the term "hair trigger", being this revolver is a DA/SA ( Double Action/Single Action) the single action mode typically has a reduced trigger pull in the 4 to 4-1/2 pound range, really nothing special and not a hair trigger. Now I would like to know what the process for this "impact test" comprises of? What no one can tell us, where his fingers were in relation to the hammer & the trigger, because I am not familiar with a revolver with the transfer bar
safety failing.

Sam

Hey Matt hair trigger or not ,if anyone placed a loaded gun anywhere near their head and was injured or died who's fault would that be, and wouldn't the fact they placed themselves in harm make it intentional or gross reckless? Clearly we will agree to disagree. Why change the subject to the 2010 case? Why not answer why the family attorney has a column in your newspaper every week that is nothing more than a promotion for his practice with no comments allowed. You should agree that at least is an appearance of a lack of objectivity concerning that attorney on the newspapers part?
Bottom line the AG agreed it was self inflicted and the victim was reckless in his own death.

Matt Westerhold

Sam ... just look up the definition of the word suicide. It requires intent. This isn't rocket science. And Wukie doesn't mention "reckless disregard." He implies it was an accident. Seems like some people here in the comments section want to make this up as they go along and disregard information that doesn't meet with their view. Do you work for the Sandusky County sheriff's office, Sam, or have close ties to this unfolding story? 

Sam

No Matt I don't work for the Sandusky County Sheriff, or have close ties with any of the involved parties including the lawyer for the family. You are correct this isn't rocket science, what was his intent when he pointed a loaded gun towards his head, does any us really know. If in fact he wasn't suicidal he was reckless. Does either outcome really bring peace to the family. How about my question about this newspaper's objectivity with the apparent relationship with the family's lawyer, doesn't that raise questions about journalistic objectivity? I will ask you the same question you asked me and I answered, explain your ties with any of the involved persons involved in this case.

Jmschmidt812

Mr. Westerhold you have no idea what his intentions where, so you can cannot say that it wasn't his intention. You keep bringing up the Jones case when it has no relevance to this one. This article is about Mr. Wukie, not the SCSO. If there was a problem with the way they handled Mr. Jones and if he wasn't a threat like you say, then why didn't his parents disarm him? They failed a lie detector test while on the Dr. Phil show, and those tests and their findings, as far as I know, were never reviewed by another expert. As you know just from this case, not every expert is going to have the same opinion as the next. Those results should be reviewed by an unbiased third party and see how they view each of the results.

Matt Westerhold

Wukie says he relied on Overmyer; Overmyer says he relied on sheriff's Captain Michael Meggitt; and Meggitt said: 

“Everybody there was extremely shocked about what occurred,” Sandusky County Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Meggitt told a reporter on March 3, 2012, just hours after Jake was killed. “He wasn’t distraught. There’s not one person there that thought he did that intentionally.”

I don't understand the disconnect, and would prefer that Wukie, Overmyer and Meggitt simply provide a fuller explanation. 

“Everything just totally points to an accident,” AG Mike DeWine told the Register. “We have no evidence he killed himself at all.”

Also, the Jones case is relevant for a variety of reasons. It's set to likely go to trial. In addition, like the Limberios case, a different use of the word "suicide" was used and has been questioned, rightly so. And, for God's sake, he was sleeping; he could not be passed out and present a threat to the officers at the same time.

The death of Craig Burdine also is relavant because it involves Sandusky County sheriff's employees in the death of another resident, and the Ohio Attorney General is currently investigating it as a criminal matter. "Excited delirum" is a relatively new and controversial cause of death category; suffocating after having the cartilage in your neck fractured is not. 

As far as answering questions here, I try to do that. It's difficult, however, especially when some readers ask the same questions and ignore the previous answers. It can be a good forum to answer reader questions, perhaps, otherwise. We intend to make upgrades to the programming in 2014 that should improve the comments section. 

Thanks for the comment, JSchmidt. I hope this response is useful to you. 

Jmschmidt812

If Mr. Jones was no threat, why call the cops? His parents could've taken the gun away. Is it an accurate statement that Mr. Burdine ran head first into a wall while under the influence of drugs and or alcohol? There are a lot more to these cases than you are reporting. If there were circumstances that may have played a part in these deaths, there should be a responsibility to report that as well.

Matt Westerhold

When his parents called he likely was a threat, but later, when he was sleeping on the couch, alone in the house, he was no longer a threat. Deputies stood just feet away from him. He was sleeping and not standing in a threatening posture when the deputies used the flash bang grenade to wake him up. They used a grenade, to wake him up. 

Simple Enough II

With a shotgun, and in the past having no problem firing at & into another person abode he was unhappy with.

Babo

There does appear to be some problems with SCSO and death investigations. But in the Jones and Burdine cases, SCSO conduct might be the cause of the deaths. That's different from the Limberios case, where the death occurred before SCSO arrived.

Sure everybody was shocked by what occurred. It's a traumatic experience to be present when someone dies by gunshot wound to the head. If the stories at the scene checked out with the evidence, it makes sense that the scene would be cleaned up as it wasn't a crime scene.

I think you are trying to say that the actions of SCSO need to be investigated in all the cases. If that's the case, you're barking up the wrong tree and debating these serious issues in a blog isn't helpful. You need to contact the feds.

I admire your efforts to work for justice, but your methods don't appear to be effective. You weren't effective in the Nuesse case either and the misconduct there was worse than in this case.

Once the system has an agenda in place, it's very hard if not impossible to stop the train.

Julie R.

"Once the system has an agenda in place, it's very hard, if not impossible, to stop the train."

No truer words were ever spoken.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Babo. Interesting observations.

The Register's job and the staff's job is to report the information to the best of our ability. It is not to be a decider and determiner of which agency should investigate which agency. We have successfully brought this information forward, which means we've done our job. It's up to residents and responsible public officials to fix whatever might be broken. 

The local FBI was informed of this problem as it persisted and continues. I'm not sure if the family contacted U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman or U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, or the Justice Department in Washington, but believe they intended to do that. It's an important decision what agency investigates, as shown by the developments that occurred in the last 22 months.  

Your final statement is exactly correct. Thanks for the comments.

Simple Enough II

Go back and read the burdine incident, what he did to the victim, what he did to himself PRIOR to being arrested by Fremont Police Department and transported by them to the county jail. Also in both the Jones case and burdine case we were not there all we know is what has been reported and in both cases neither family will own up to any responsibility of their child for his actions and behavior which resulted in the outcome.

Babo

Except that we (the public) expect law enforcement to be trained and not react inappropriately to provocations. In both the Jones and Burdine cases, the police could have stood down. There was no reason to crush Burdine's throat (hyloid fracture) nor was there any reason to throw a flash grenade and go in shooting in the Jones case.

Compare how a female nurse is charged with a felony for assaulting a combative male veteran (inexcusable but a felony?)while supposedly professional LE's can kill people with no repercussions.

The problem in my opinion is that the barriers to entry to becoming law enforcement officers (especially in rural counties) are too low and the field attracts the wrong type of man psychologically speaking. LE's are supposed to be peace officers not trigger happy frustrated warriors.

Sam

"Some readers ask the same questions and ignore the previous answers."

Yet the editor of this newspaper refuses or ignores to answer one question, that being the perceived conflict with the attorney for the family and his relationship with management of the newspaper. A patronizing response is not an answer.

Ithink

You won't get the answers you are hoping for if you keep reading the factual evidence of the case. Stop trying to twist it to meet your needs, whatever those may be. Move on. The Justice for Jake and Ella supporters wish you the best, but move on.

Matt Westerhold

Sam: There's nothing unusual about an attorney writing a column for a newspaper. We decided to publish the foreclosure blog with the increase in foreclosures that occurred. It seemed to make sense to focus on that topic as a service to readers. For your perception to be credible, the Register would have somehow had to have planned this tragedy to capitalize on it. It's your perception, but it's not valid. You seem to be nitpicking and attacking the messenger while ignoring the value of the content. I'm not going to reply to further questioning from you in this forum, but if you have questions feel free to call me at 419-609-5866.

Sam

Matt I appreciate your answer, but still question the objectivity towards this subject. You certainly could not have planed or wanted this tragedy but have used it to the benefit of your newspaper for circulation purposes which I accept what newspapers are in business for, but what I perceive as a one sided attack on the Sandusky County officials and to the benefit of the family's attorney who has his side of the argument as the focus point of this newspapers views. Although you attempt to minimize my views as "nitpicking" I respect your views even in disagreement and would not characterize some of your responses as snide and patronizing which would be unprofessional from a jouranlist, once again we will agree to disagree.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Sam. It makes sense to question the objectivity. That's a by-product from local officials refusing to address questions raised. The Register has attempted to get response from Sandusky County officials but has been stonewalled. The Limberios family, too, has been stymied, since mid-March 2012. They have raised their questions in a civil suit, however, and in a very public way. The result is coverage being more focused on the family's 'search for the truth' and all it entailed, without involvement or engagement, self-denied, from local officials. The Register recently posted a news article about concerns raised by Dean Henry, the Tiffin attorney representing the county in the civil suit, in an attempt to inform readers of his concerns. But the newspaper cannot otherwise present information from the county's point of view if Henry or other county officials don't provide it. There are many angles to this story that remain — first up is whether the death certificate will be ordered changed — and coverage of that and other questions from the family is likely to continue. It's all newsworthy.

Babo

Fair enough, but shouldn't you provide all the documentation in the interest of fairness when it is available? For example, the entire email exchange between Henry and you could be posted.

Julie R.

What happened to White Owl? I enjoyed his or her comments but I haven't seen any for awhile. Come to think of it, where's Centauri? I haven't seen any of his/her comments in quite awhile, either.