Sandusky County judges Barbara Ansted and John Dewey owe the community an explanation.
They were the "deciders," after all, who appointed Tiffin attorney Dean Henry to be the criminal prosecutor in an "investigation" into the cause and circumstances that led to the death of 19-year-old Jacob Limberios on March 2, 2012.
A year after that appointment, there still is no resolution and no legitimate findings as to how Jacob was killed.
Ansted and Dewey overlooked the obvious conflicts of interest they were creating in December 2012 in making Henry the criminal prosecutor when he already represented the county as its defense counsel in a lawsuit filed by the Limberios family.
The family's lawsuit simply sought to force the county to conduct a legitimate investigation into the death of their son. Appointing Henry was a convenient way, perhaps, to pretend to do that without doing it.
It should have been crystal clear to both judges that Henry could never conduct a credible criminal investigation as prosecutor while simultaneously defending the interests of the county. That would be like Henry being both the criminal prosecutor in a murder trial while at the same time acting as the prime suspect's lead defense counsel.
Henry should not have been forced to serve two masters in that way, but he, too, should have seen the obvious conflicts and declined the appointment.
But Ansted and Dewey are at the top of the food chain of the county law enforcement community. It seems they were either inexplicably oblivious to the obvious, or they were more comfortable going along with a charade than they were with bucking the law enforcement community and holding it accountable.
The judges, Henry and Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer all were more interested in serving the interests of the county, it seems, than they were in seeking justice for Jake and Ella, Jacob's 5-year-old daughter.
The family should have never been forced to file a lawsuit to get legitimate answers. They should have never been forced to have their own autopsy conducted, and county officials had no business ordering a second exhumation and autopsy, to, it appears, attempt to legitimize the implausible “official story” they wanted to tell.
Perhaps there is a legitimate explanation for the choices they made, but Ansted and Dewey never offered that reasoning. Instead they simply stepped down from any further involvement — finally, and once and for all — after the family filed an ethics complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court.
The family should never have been forced to take that action, but it was effective. Both Ansted and Dewey appeared to buckle. Perhaps they valued their own reputations more than their desire to assist local officials who appeared hell-bent on maintaining the "official story" as to how Jake died.
Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt also owes the community an explanation. A young man was shot in the head and killed in his community. Sandusky County sheriff's deputies made quick work of the investigation, determining almost immediately that he shot himself without gathering any legitimate evidence to support that conclusion.
Deputies ignored the physical evidence, declined to have a trained detective come to the crime scene and did not think the coroner should be there, either. They did not call for any assistance from the state's crime lab that night.
They determined it was a suicide without having any apparent expertise or understanding as to how that could be, and they've stuck to that story since the beginning despite mounting evidence that it cannot be correct.
Deputies destroyed, or allowed witnesses to destroy, blood-spattered clothing and shoes, they left the bullet that killed Jake in the ceiling of the home where it lodged after ripping through Jacob's head, and they treated the family as if they had no business asking any questions about what happened.
And Stierwalt was content. His investigator did take a brief look at the death. He had two of the witnesses take what appear now to be bogus lie detector tests, and wrapped it up quickly endorsing the official story county officials wanted to tell, for reasons still unknown.
Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer also should provide the community an explanation. He was on scene the night Jacob Limberios was killed and he was in charge.
Why was evidence destroyed? Why weren't the witnesses questioned individually? Why didn't you request an autopsy? Why didn't you secure the crime scene and prevent most of the remaining scientific evidence inside to be washed away that very night?
Hopefully, a state grand jury convening for the last two weeks will provide answers to the questions county officials refuse to address. But whatever the outcome, residents need to take a long, hard look and decide whether this is the kind of law enforcement they want, or do they want something better.