Wukie baffles DeWine

Sandusky County coroner continues 'investigating' but nearly 23 months later he's still mum on details
Register
Jan 17, 2014

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine can't understand why Sandusky County coroner John Wukie refuses to change the death certificate of Jacob Limberios, who DeWine says died accidentally from a self-inflicted gunshot.

"I'm surprised by that," DeWine said Wednesday, describing Wukie's suicide ruling as not making sense. "It can't be an accident, and a suicide."

Meanwhile, Wukie continues a coroner's inquest into Jacob's death on March 2, 2012, but refuses to discuss what he is investigating or what goal there might be for keeping the investigation open.

Wukie's attorney, Dean Henry, refused to provide information about the probe, which Wukie re-launched in November immediately after DeWine finished his nearly five-month investigation and announced the results, determining the Limberios death was an accident.

"I don’t try my cases in the press, and this one is no exception," Henry stated in an email to the Register on Tuesday, in response to questions about the current investigation.

Wukie does not return phone calls from the Register or respond to inquiries. He has deferred questions to Henry, a private attorney hired by the county to defend Wukie in a now-dismissed lawsuit the Limberios family brought seeking to correct the death certificate filed by Wukie.

Henry was later appointed to serve as special criminal prosecutor in the probe, but a visiting judge presiding over the lawsuit removed him from the criminal investigation in May, citing the obvious conflicts in having Henry serve as both criminal prosecutor and defense counsel for the county.

It's unclear what, if any role, remains for Henry.

He refused to provide documents confirming his continued authority to act as criminal prosecutor. He also refused to answer questions about the continuing investigation, suggesting he's replied to all questions from other news media, but he won't respond to the Register's inquiries because he does not like the Register's news coverage.

"I am declining to share information with you because, in my opinion, you are using the Limberios family and their grief to sell newspapers and generate advertising revenue, and you’re doing that while engaging in very questionable journalism," Henry said.

Henry's position would appear to possibly be in violation of the Ohio Revised Code, which does not exempt public records from being released on the basis of a public official's personal opinion.

Click here to read related articles or watch related news video. 

Henry ratcheted up his hostility toward the Register earlier this month when he was asked about an ethics complaint concerning him, allegedly filed by the Ohio Attorney General. The complaint is referenced in the AG's report. He called the reference "bullshit," but has otherwise refused to comment on the nature of it or how any complaint might have been resolved.

It's unknown if any other news media outlets have asked him about the ethics complaint, or whether he's answered any questions about it.

The Register intends to pursue the question with the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel, which handles ethics complaints against attorneys. Documents associated with complaints are often kept secret and exempted from the public record, however, and the AG's office has declined comment on the complaint referenced in the report.

The Limberios family has been fighting nearly two years to get Jacob's death certificate changed and has brought forward evidence — confirmed by DeWine — that Sandusky County officials botched the initial investigation, allowing critical forensic evidence to be destroyed and refusing to order an autopsy after Jacob died.

Jacob's parents, Mike and Shannon Limberios, have not complained about the Register's news coverage. They have, however, been critical of Sandusky County officials, including Henry. The family dropped the lawsuit to have the death certificate changed earlier this month, after Henry filed court documents opposing a change on procedural grounds.

Jacob's parents mortgaged their Castalia home to pay previous costs associated with a private autopsy, private investigation, legal services and court-related expenses.

Accidental suicide

Wukie wanted now-retired Sandusky County Detective Jim Consolo to be the lead investigator in September 2012 when he launched the original coroner's inquest in response the the family's lawsuit. After agreeing to let Consolo conduct a thorough probe "turning over every stone," Wukie backpedaled almost immediately, according to documents from the AG's report.

In a subsequent phone call to Consolo, Wukie asked the detective to assure him the coroner's inquest would not be critical of Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, or how Overmyer and his deputies handled the initial investigation. 

Consolo removed himself from further involvement just days later, after a brief and strange conversation with Overmyer's chief deputy, Bruce Hirt, about his work with Wukie on the coroner's inquest, according to the documents.

Overmyer's hand-picked replacement for Consolo was sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell. It's not clear if O'Connell assured Overmyer he'd conduct the investigation without being critical of Overmyer or the initial investigation. In a conversation he recorded, however, O'Connell did say he was assigned to the case because Consolo wasn't "a team player."

Wukie defended the nonsensical wording he used on the death certificate after DeWine announced his findings in November. In mid-March 2012, Wukie wrote on the death certificate: "Suicide. Gunshot wound to head. Deceased shot self in head, may not have realized the gun was loaded." 

He has said he wrote it that way out of compassion for Jacob's mother, to give her "some question" about whether Jacob intended to commit suicide. And yet, he did not return repeated telephone calls from Shannon Limberios after she received the death certificate from him in the mail just weeks after burying Jacob the first time.

Shannon inquired about the strange ruling, which shocked her, she said, but Wukie refused to return her calls. The family felt forced to get their own autopsy and to file the lawsuit, she said, when Wukie and other Sandusky County officials would not see them or respond to their inquiries.

An autopsy wasn't needed, according to Wukie, who said it's not necessary to know whether a person intended to kill himself in order to rule a death a suicide. Wukie told the AG's investigator in October 2013 it might be true, that in other regions in Ohio intention is necessary for a suicide ruling, but it's not necessary in Sandusky County.

Click here to listen to recording of Wukie's interview

Former New York medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden, a renowned forensic pathologist who reviewed autopsy results and the remaining forensic evidence that wasn't destroyed, also recently urged Wukie to correct the death certificate.

"Jacob Limberios died as a result of an accidental gun discharge," Baden said. "The manner of death on his death certificate should be changed to reflect this."

Coroners are the only public officials in Ohio who can change or correct a death certificate. Wukie's suicide ruling will likely result in Jacob's 5-year-old daughter being denied a small life insurance benefit.

Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt did not respond to a public records request seeking documents confirming Dean Henry's appointment and his continuing authority to act as special prosecutor. He also declined to provide any details about the ongoing coroner's inquest, its scope or the goal of an investigation.

Sandusky County officials also have refused to release public documents related to the cost associated with the 23 months spent investigating Jacob's death. 

They suggested previously an autopsy was not ordered initially after Jacob died because of the expense.

 

Comments

SKULLNBONES

Wukie should be fired.

anne822

This mom is blessed; I just want to add her story. She has been unemployed for months but now receiving money in her spare time on laptop. She basically makes $6000-$8000 a month online. Check out here http://7.ly/emjG

Centauri

One name: Dean Henry

John Harville

Henry defended former Clyde-Green Springs Supt. (who may be eligible to apply for judicial release from Judge Barbara Ansted) and allowed Helms to take the fall for several other persons about whom questions never were answered.

Centauri

@ John, thank you for the information. Dean Henry was supposed to "investigate" allegations about another OHIO school system.

http://www.toledoblade.com/Educa...
"The complaint alleges that some Benton-Carroll-Salem school members and county law enforcement officials, including county Prosecutor Mark Mulligan, have been involved in cover-ups and corrupt activity."
Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Educa...

Lil DAB

Babo

He won't be eligible for judicial release until he completes five years of his sentence. If Henry allowed Helms to take the fall for others (and this is common among attorneys who are aligned with the system) then Helms should start talking to federal authorities.

In another school case, (the case Centauri linked above) Henry was critical in protecting a law firm that stood by as its client school system's funds were misappropriated. The county prosecutor also allowed it. That same law firm was also involved in the Erie County Metro Parks Fiasco and the County prosecutor in that case also allowed that financial disaster to occur. So by any chance were the attorneys who represented Green Springs Schools during the Helms administration affiliated with the law firm Baumgartner & OToole or Stumphauzer and O'Toole?

mikeylikesit

engaging in questionable journalism??? that whole county is engaged in questionable practices, the register is just questioning their practices..

holysee

I have direct inside knowledge of said corruption and the register hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. Dig much deeper and do your job. The garbage is deep and wide.

Everyone is fam...

Wukie, you deserve to be in the unemployment line. There is NO reason not to change the death certificate. Get over your power trip, swallow your pride, and do what's right.

mamaC

Please Help the Limberios Family & Friends by signing our new Petition Dr. Wukie Change Jake's Death Certificate from Suicide to Accidental.
http://www.change.org/petitions/...

Matt Westerhold

Dean Henry offered the following email response (among others) after this story published earlier today:

On Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 7:11 PM, Dean Henry <deanhenry@bright.net> wrote:

Matt,

I’m able to provide all kinds of information.  I’m declining to provide you with any of it, because I have lost all faith in your ability or desire to report professionally.  You are the only news organization that can’t seem to get it.  Everyone else is reporting accurately, asking all the right questions, and trying to stick with the facts.  You, on the other hand, are conducting a public clinic on how to screw up a story and completely mislead your readership.  Based on the online comments that have been sent to me, a lot of those folks are catching on to your subterfuge.

We’ve been around this block before.  You’re trying to bait me into responding.  You’re just lying when you continue to print that I have declined comment.  I haven’t declined to comment at all, and you know it.  I’ve told you over and over that when you produce the data I have repeatedly asked for, I’ll start talking.  Stop your lying, Matt.

Still waiting, Matt.

Dean

 

Ithink

"I have declined comment". You just commented.

holysee

Really? Dean accuses you of lying? Sounds like the last refuge of a scoundrel. A reporter has nothing to gain from lying. Just what are the "right" questions? ANY and all questions should be asked and ANSWERED.
Keep up the good work Matt and grind their noses into the pavement.
WAY too much crap these officials can and do get away with.

DickTracey

Attorney, or petulant child?!

I say petulant child! Thanks for posting this email, for all to see the immature and unprofessional response. There is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start!

The other reporters are "asking the right questions". WOW!

Let's break it down like this.

Haha, Matt! I have Xbox 360 and a ton of new games, but YOU can't come play with me! All the other kids tell me I'm cool, and I'm strong and they like me. But your just a poopy ,dummy and I'm not even going to tell you what new game I have, cause I'm not. So too bad, your going to miss all the fun! I've told you like a hundred times Matt, so quit lying, duh.

Hahahahahahaha! He also says people people send him the online comments! Right! He is sitting there reading all of them!! So childish.

Carlos Danger

One has to wonder how much the Register's "reporting" (a word used loosely when it comes to the Register) of this case has contributed to Wukie's decision NOT to change the death certificate.  In other words, has Wukie dug his heals in BECAUSE of the Register?

mikesee

Probably. The old ugly step mother (ie the SR) kept beating the child to get them to do something and they refused as long as the old ugly step mother continued to beat.

Babo

I think it's a real possibility. The irony is Dr. Wukie has an open Inquest and that process allows Dr. Wukie to examine the conduct of the Sheriff and Captain Meggitt at the original scene. It also allows Wukie to inquire into the conduct of Prosecutor Stierwalt and what looks like the improper hiring of Dean Henry.

In other words, the last person the family should be attacking is Dr. Wukie. They should be trying hard to work with him not against him as the Sheriff, Meggitt, Stierwalt and Henry (with the AG's office help) are very happy that the SR and Limberios family is focused on him and off of themselves.

Centauri

"I’m able to provide all kinds of information. I’m declining to provide you with any of it"

@Dean, Please use the Sandusky Register to provide the information to the masses.

Expect an email from me to: deanhenry@bright.net

Centauri

@ Dean, Once I contact you, give me all the information and I will pass it on to the Sandusky Register. It will all be "word for word" with no edits.

If the Sandusky Register "edits" your information, I will post the information so the masses will know.

Think of me as an intermediary. I also offer my service for free to those too bashful or afraid to post comments.

Expect my email.

John Harville

Ohio Attorney General SHOULD trump Wukie - especially since ORC defines suicide as 'intentional taking of one's life'.

ORC also states, unequivocally, that Jake's parents - together and separately - are allowed to see ALL the Coroner's records used to determine the cause of death. Why aren't Jake's parents/attorney asking for those records?

John Harville

Matt: Keep up the pursuit of facts. Keep writing. In this county they do all that's possible to intimidate. The Sheriff even called me out in the middle of Miller's Super Market in Clyde. But I'm terminal anyway so I don't intimidate well.

DickTracey

John, sorry to hear about your health.

Lil DAB

Harville, you aren't going anywhere until you write a book about 'everything' you know, Mister! *wink

Gardenman

Is it possible to do a recall of this guy and force him to stand for election early? I can`t believe the voters in Sandusky County would reelect him to office.

sash

I want to know if the County is still paying Henry to represent Wukie now that the lawsuit has been dropped. Wukie is apparently still using Henry to represent him in some capacity. Who's paying the bills?

Matt Westerhold

Dean Henry submitted an invoice in the spring for about $8,500 for his services. Click here to read that story. In a reply to a recent email request for any additional invoices Mr. Henry stated there have been no other invoices submitted to the county. The lawsuit has been dismissed and it's not clear what role Henry still has with this incident because he, county prosecutor Tom Stierwalt and Wukie all refuse to respond to questions of that nature, or detail the purpose of the continuing investigation. 

lifetimeresident

Is this the same person that is trying to run a newly formed hospital in Fremont. Where does he have all the extra time.

KnuckleDragger

What newly formed hospital is that? The hospital you are referring to (Physicians choice) that was under Wukie's tutelage went under over a year ago and is currently sitting empty.

Babo

Actually that Hospital was owned by a group of Physicians to offer competition to Memorial Hospital. I heard that when Physicians' Choice tried to align with a larger medical organization, the landlord for the building who sits on Memorial Hospital's Board played hard ball with the lease. Memorial recently signed with Promedica after their competition for ER services was eliminated.

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