Jacob's family drops lawsuit

Sandusky County coroner John Wukie won't change suicide ruling despite evidence death was accidental
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 5, 2014

The Limberios family dropped its lawsuit against Sandusky County coroner John Wukie on Friday, a month after Wukie refused to change the ruling on their son’s death certificate from suicide to accidental to reflect the findings of a state investigation.

But they’re not surrendering, family attorney Dan McGookey said.

”Enough’s enough,” McGookey said. “The lawsuit was a productive thing, but this search for the truth is definitely not over.”

Jacob Limberios, 19, was killed by a single gunshot to the head on March 2, 2012.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine determined in November after a five-month state investigation that Limberios’ death was an accident. But Wukie, who never conducted an investigation, is sticking with his March 2012 ruling: “Suicide. Gunshot wound to head. Deceased shot self in head, may not have realized the gun was loaded”

Wukie’s statement on the death certificate has been described in Register news articles as an “accidental suicide” ruling.

It’s not clear how, or whether, Wukie determined Limberios intentionally shot himself. He said he relied on Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer’s assessment, but deputies at the scene — as DeWine did later
   — stated there was no evidence it was a suicide.

The initial investigation by Overmyer was botched, however, after blood evidence and other evidence was destroyed. The bullet that killed Limberios was left lodged in a ceiling at the home and the results of lie detector tests given to two of the three witnesses during the initial investigation were discredited.   

Overmyer refused to answer the family’s questions about the investigation’s missteps and Wukie refused to order an autopsy or return their phone calls. He also refused to re-open the investigation until after the family filed the lawsuit in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court, and then later ordered a second exhumation and autopsy after the family already had obtained a private autopsy.

The county hired Tiffin attorney Dean Henry to defend Wukie in the lawsuit and then later appointed him to conduct the criminal investigation, fighting the family’s efforts for an independent investigation at every step. Henry was later fired as criminal prosecutor by a visiting judge who cited the obvious conflicts he had serving in the dual roles.

DeWine was appointed to finish the investigation.

Henry did not respond to an email inquiry late Friday. He has generally declined comment to the Register, contending its coverage has been biased and unfair to local public officials.

The lawsuit served its purpose, McGookey said. It forced the state investigation and that investigation showed clearly that Jake’s death was an accident, he said.

“Did we dismiss the case? Yes. But if we had never filed that case, the attorney general never would have been involved,” he said.

From that investigation, additional information was uncovered about the night Jacob died, including knowledge of a gun defect that showed Jacob’s .357 Magnum misfired sometimes during testing.

While his parents aren’t satisfied with the findings of DeWine’s investigation, it was a step in the right direction, McGookey said.

“Mike and Shannon Limberios and their family have not given up their search for the truth,” he said. “We feel that all of the facts have still not come out, and I want the public to know that the attorney general unequivocally said, several times over in his 20-page statement, that this was a terrible, tragic accident.”

Comments

candleburner

I don't understand why the man won't change the death certificate when he's basically been told that he was wrong by the Ohio Attorney General. I mean how much further up does the family have to go to get this done? I could be wrong - I have been before and I will be again and I apologize in advance if I'm saying this wrong - but wasn't part of what the lawsuit to get them to change the cause of death so they could properly process his insurance policies? Hope someone can get thru to Wukie and finally get him to cooperate and do what he's supposed to do.

The Don

About time. Accept it and stop trying to us yours sons death for your five mins of fame

Kasey

Or maybe they were concerned that they weren't going to get any money out of his death, so now that they've spent more on "finding the truth" than they'd receive from insurance or a settlement, they're pulling out. I always have thought that part of this investigation was a witch hunt intending to put blame on someone else for their son's death and earn some cash out of it.
Stop trying to put blame where blame isn't due. It was an accident, and no rulings, settlements, or words from any coroner, atty, or investigator can bring your son back. Invest your money in some counseling so that your grieving leads to healing instead of anger and blame. Ella deserves a family that is at peace, not a family that is embroiled in investigations and lawsuits and putting blame on her own aunt.
I have held my tongue ever since the event happened, as I was not there and am not one of the three living who know what happened. But I feel it is time for someone to step up and tell the family, frankly, to drop it. I mean this in the most sincere way: none of this will bring "truth" or "justice"; instead, it is bringing unneeded stress and drama. Stop distracting yourself from your grief - accept it and begin to heal.

My thoughts

Is is true that there is a Life Insurance policy (policies)? I know sometimes they won't pay if the deceased committed suicide. A co-worker wondered if the fight for the death certificate change was due to this issue and now it appears in a post. Anyone have details?

Nor'easter

There is clearly 2 sides to this story. Investigative reporting instead of media sensationalism would be much appreciated.

mikesee

Agreed.

Justwow

Get over it people. Let it go. Its done. He killed himself

nobodycares

I still say the little blond hottie shot him accidently !!

44846GWP

Maybe one day his "friends" will tell the truth.

jennyn1977

well for those of you who say, he killed himself, just accept it etc. well considering many now have said this was an accident, but yet the coroner won't change the ruling of death, makes no sense to me. I would like to know what you think they are suppose to tell his daughter Ella, when she wants to know how or why her dad died? what are they suppose to say? we don't know why. no one knows because no one else would investigate any further? speaking from experience, my daughter was 9 1/2 last year when her father died suddenly. no one knew why, and for three months we had to wait for the autopsy results. in the mean time, I had no idea what to tell my 9 year old about how or why her father had died. I just had to tell her sometimes our hearts just stop beating. three months later when we did get the autopsy results back we at least had an answer to how and why he died, these parents are just asking for a change in the death ruling since it is pretty apparent to the police etc. that this was not a suicide, it was an accident.

dorothy gale

His daughter can be told the TRUTH - that her father was the victim of an accidental shooting. When she is older, she can be told the whole story and then form her own opinion.

ladydye_5

They can tell her what they want. My thoughts exactly. Tell her it was an accident. Does it matter what is on the paper. Not like she is old enough to READ! If they are worried about the paper that makes it sound as if they are only worried about the life insurance money. When the daughter is old enough explain the whole thing. Let her read the stories, see the articles and know what happened. There is a lot of time for everyone to figure out what to tell her. It was an accident. If that is what happened, that is what you tell them. The AG said his gun had a defect and he accidentally shot himself. So what if the coroner will not change the piece of paper.

Jmschmidt812

This was a very unfortunate case. Things could've been handled better, better choices should've been made by all parties involved. The SR should've stopped attacking the character and reputation of Dr. Wukie long enough to let the dust settle. It's been a constant attack on the officials of Sandusky County since this all happened. Now it may be to late to reverse any change of the death certificate. Hope the family can heal from all this and maybe find a little peace. Good luck to them all.

sugar

Shame on you all, I do not care how a child dies, the pain to his/her family is unbearable. No surprise there are so many horrific comments, this area is full of horrific miserable lowlifes, and I don't mean the usual suspects, the "Sandusky" people. I've seen cops and retired firemen and teachers on here who post the most garbage. Must be the Democrats/libs/progressives. Misery demands company.

Jmschmidt812

You're a sad excuse of a person to throw politics into this.

44846GWP

Agree.

sash

Agree

dorothy gale

What a moronic thing to say! But if you want to make it political, the "Democrats/libs/progressives" are the ones with the hearts! Crawl back under your rock and snuggle up with your Ann Coulter books.

sugar

The truth hurts, yes I can tell how tolerant and loving you are. Lib hypocrite.

Jmschmidt812

Oh please enlighten us on what it takes to be any of those political names you used.

Mom of 2 boys

I would be surprised if the ones on these boards commenting that the parents should just "move on" with their life, are NOT parents themselves. AND if you are....you better watch your words because usually when you are critical on someone, you WILL walk in their shoes and then you will know the love that drove them to make the choices they have had to make.

Please

Nothing needs changed!! The ruling was an accidental suicide. This means the person holds the gun facing them, not intending on pulling the trigger, but the gun accidentally goes off. Now if the person is cleaning their gun and it accidentally goes off, then it is ruled as an accident. This is how this type of shooting is determined from a coroner.....nothing will be changed because it is the correct ruling! !

Ctwhalers

They dropped it to take it in another direction. They still can refile later. They are not done fighting so do not think it is over cause it is not. J4J will keep going on and even in the register.

Please

What is there to fight? The ruling was correct, the AG did an investigation, there is nothing left!! J4J will continue until they get the answer they want....it's not going to happen.

starryeyes83

I cannot ever recall in all the decades - my family and ones before me - have gotten the Register.... so many articles on one story. One every 5 or 6 days is overkill. The truth stopped being the agenda a long time ago!

SR: Are you all through milking this one ,yet?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks starryeyes83, and thanks for getting the Register. It's likely the newspaper will continue reporting information as this story develops. In March it will be one year since Wukie's ruling. That likely will be the cutoff date for receiving the life insurance payment. Given the evidence doesn't reflect the ruling and the benefit could be denied, that would be a news story. Is there some discernible reason coroner Wukie would want to stick with a ruling that's been invalidated and deny Jake's child a small life insurance benefit? The gun also was found to be defective. Information about that would be newsworthy if there is a lawsuit or a recall of the weapon. It's interesting, given the cost to raise a child over 18 years is hundreds of thousands of dollars, that some readers think the family should just drop the matter and let the incorrect ruling stand. Family attorney Dan McGookey told the Register the family felt forced to file the lawsuit to get answers. That was shown to be apparent in the 20 months since, covering this story. SR staff observed the family attempt to interact with county officials in each instance in polite and respectful ways. We also observed, and experienced, the same hostility, stonewalling and rudeness the family did, from the Sandusky County law enforcement community and Dr. Wukie, from the start. That failure to execute and apparent inability to perform public duties to a public standard is newsworthy. 

starryeyes83

Matt, I see your point, however, Maybe the parents should have thought of that before they allowed their son, age 19, to illegally(?) own/posses/obtain a firearm and have it on their property under their roof. They knew his medication and mental health history. They also knew he had a habit of handling a gun recklessly. As he still lived with them. The mother even stated words to that effect right after he died.

There's culpability on the parents' part in this whole thing.

starryeyes83

.

Babo

Some friendly advice from one who has been through the system:

1. Find a physician with a law degree to approach Dr. Wukie and request an Inquest and change in cause of death. In other words get a peer to approach him not a lawyer who knows nothing about medicine.

2. Find a qualified civil rights attorney who specializes in official misconduct (there several good ones in the Cleveland area)to review the case for federal civil rights violations.

3. Contact Governor Kasich and request an Official Misconduct investigation into Sheriff Overmeyer and Prosecutor Stierwalt pursuant to the Removal from Office Statutes.

mikesee

Civil rights violated? Oh you must be related to a lawyer looking to dredge up more money.

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