All posts tagged Homicide

Jennifer Cooke murder spurs $20K reward – after 6 years

Published September 5, 2019 by justicewg

Jennifer CookeThe unsolved homicide of Jennifer Cooke in 2013 was a shock to the Grandview Heights community, leading to a massive investigation that pointed to some “person of interest”, but never lead to an arrest.

Grandview police have just announced a $20K reward for information that will close the case.

Read the original story that was posted on this blog, and the 2014 story that really was a non story (with a side discussion on the accuracy of polygraph machines).

We can hope that the offer of the reward at this late date is an indication that some new information has popped up that has helped the police. Unfortunately, all I read is that the police are asking for more memories from people who might have been in the area of the murder six years ago.

They are asking anyone that may have been in the area of Woodhill Drive or Palmer Drive on August 8 and 9, 2013 to contact police. Police said they are heavily focused on the early morning hours of August 9, 2013 between midnight and 8 a.m.

I can’t understand how asking for memories from 2013 are going to lead to anything substantial. Maybe this reward is a way for the police to say “we are still investigating”. At this late date, the reward doesn’t inspire confidence that any headway in the investigation has occurred.

Jennifer Cook murder still unsolved, and lie detectors still don’t work

Published August 13, 2015 by justicewg

Jennifer CookeTwo years have passed since the murder of Jennifer Cook, a Grandview parent. My condolences to her family. There was a letter from Cook’s mother published in a Ch 10 story in which she tells us about the anguish she feels about her daughter’s death, and the disappointment she has with the police investigation.

This CH 10 story includes a repeat of the fact that Cook’s ex-husband, Dave Culbertson, has not taken a lie detector test offered by the police, as though that were a clue to solving the mystery of the murder. It tells us nothing except Culbertson has a good council who correctly told him that it is stupid to take police lie detector tests, even if you are innocent.

Lie detector machines are modern voodoo

The results of scientific studies are in, and they all say the same thing. Lie detector machines don’t work to indicate lies. What they show are stresses, and there is no way to differentiate the stress an innocent person will show when asked aggressive questions from the stress of a lie. A guilty person can easily learn to fake the responses of an innocent person when he is wired to the machine.

The police have good reason to make exaggerated stories up about the effectiveness of the test. In order to do a machine examination, the suspect must answer as many questions as the technician wants, often for hours. The more questions asked, the better the chance a mistake will be found, because we all have imperfect memories. Innocent mistakes can then be claimed to be lies, and the stress of being grilled on these mistakes allows the examiner to say “stress readings shows that this person was untruthful during the test”.

Some crimes have been solved when suspects believe that the machine works, and break down and confess during the examination. It doesn’t happen often, because even a cursory search of the net for the question “do lie detectors work” shows pages of stories that have proved the tests are bunk. There are also plenty of people who are selling “how to beat lie detector” courses. It mostly is instructions to fake stress during some questions, and relax during important questions.

If you have a competent lawyer, they will tell you to never take a police lie detector test, even if you are innocent. Passing the test will still allow the police to say “this person was intentionally trying to beat the machine”. Failing the test, which happens often to innocent people, will lead to further questioning and investigation by the police (wasting police resources that could have been used to find the real guilty party). Test results will not be allowed in most courtrooms.

The police need to stop using lie detection machines, and claiming they work. Police work should be based on science, and the science has spoken – the machines are garbage.

Ask the police to do their jobs

The letter from Cooke’s mother, Charlyn Marie, is heartbreaking. She is sick with grief, and wants justice for her daughter. You could read this letter as a request for justice outside of the police system, she says “No arrests have been made. There is no longer any progress or hope. I feel that this is such an intolerable, shameful injustice to my daughter Jennifer.”

We all feel bad for Charlyn Marie, I wish there was some way to give her peace. However, taking your own acts to provide justice outside of the legal system would be a dark path to go down. Even if you are convinced the police and prosecutor in Grandview are not up to the task, any action you take will be seen as “Making someone pay, even if we can’t prove they are guilty”. I don’t think that would be helpful to the image of our town.

What you can do is send an email or letter to the Chief of Police, and/or the Mayor of Grandview, and ask them to continue to investigate and bring charges against the murderer. As long as there are people pressing them, they have reason to continue the investigation. When nobody cares any more … why should they?

Staying off the path that leads nowhere

I should have guessed that there would be people who have strong opinions about the guilt or innocence of a suspect in the Cook murder. Some are convinced that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence, and we are failing to honor Jennifer if we don’t charge Culbertson. Others think Ch. 10 was using yellow journalism to try to rile up a gang mentality against a person who has not been charged, and should be assumed innocent.

If you have new evidence, and you think you can solve the case, talk to the police. I’m sure they will be happy to listen.

If you think Ch 10 was wrong in printing that story, send them a strongly worded letter.

I’m not going to allow this blog to be used as a fighting arena between the two viewpoints. Nobody has a special knowledge about this case that will allow them to win the fight. Unless you are the killer, in which case you can just go to the cops and let them know what a smart person you are, and how you got away with it. Until that happens, I’m not allowing comments that lead nowhere.

(Update Aug. 2016) The TVN printed a story about the Cook murder, but it had no new info. The Grandview police say they still working, but said nothing about a break in the case.

Attempted abduction on Grandview street

Published May 27, 2015 by justicewg

A 7 year old Grandview child said that a man attempted to reach out from a passing vehicle and grab her. This happened about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 1100 block of Mulford Road. The car was reported to be a silver sedan, unknown make and model. The child ran into the house and the car left the area. The man was described as a heavyset white male in his 40s. No further sightings of the couple in the car have been reported.

This is a unusual but not unique event in Grandview, I remember an incident where a child reported an attempted abduction down by Pierce Field a number of years ago.

More info on the Grandview City blog.

There was an abduction and murder of a Marble Cliff child in 1971. Michael Dean Klitch, 12, was taken from the tennis courts below the Summit Chase apartments on Goodale Boulevard. His body was found two weeks later in a shack near Alum Creek in Delaware County. No suspects were ever arrested in that case.

Grandview murder from 2000 back in the news

Published September 29, 2014 by justicewg

The discussion about the Cooke murder in August 2013 brought up the story of a previous murder that happened 14 years ago. Mary Compton was stabbed by a friend of her children, allegedly while on LSD. The Dispatch has a story about the convicted murderer, Chad Davis, and his asking for a new trial because of mistakes by the judge in the original sentencing hearing.

Davis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years to life. Judge Deborah P. O’Neill told Davis that he may be eligible for judicial release after serving 15 years. This was incorrect, the sentence he was given said that he could not ask for early release. Because of this mistake, he will be given a new trial.

Much more details about the crime and the trial, and the stories of Compton’s kids are in the very well written Dispatch story.

Kicking her while she is down

Today (Sept 30) the Dispatch editorial page has a story that rips on former Judge Deborah P. O’Neill. The judge was removed from office by the Ohio Supreme Court and stripped of her license (since returned, I think). This story says she had to pay $587,000 in legal fees connected to her failed defense. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve more bad press. But it does seem a little like they are adding to a pile-on.

Davis accepted a plea deal

Probably the last update on this case – Davis accepted a plea deal a day before his new trial was to begin. According to the Dispatch story he will be in prison for another 11 years, until 2027.


Crime in Our Community

Published September 22, 2014 by justicewg

The PTO Speakers Series will be hosting a talk on  “Crime in Our Community:  What you Need to Know and How You Can Help”, presented by Sgt. Leslie Jackson of the GHPD.  The talk will be on Monday, September 22, from 7:00-7:30pm in the Media Center at the High School.

The announcement of this presentation said there will be a Q and A session afterwards. I would be interested in hearing the answer to the question “Why has the police department failed to find the Grandview Flasher”, after more than a year and over 15 incidents of  exposing himself. There is a facebook group for the Grandview Flasher that has over 170 members, so I think there is some interest in the community for some updates on that hunt.

Jennifer Cook’s  murder  has also gone unsolved. I’m guessing that the same “investigation is in progress” line will be used. At this point, the case is so cold that the police might want to try something new – release some of the information that they were holding back maybe? I get that they don’t want to release much for fear of compromising the prosecution of the case, but if they never find the killer, there will never be a case that goes before a jury.

Grandview Police have not found Cooke’s killer

Published August 11, 2014 by justicewg

Jennifer Cooke There are a few anniversary stories in the media as one year has passed since the murder of Jennifer Cooke. The most important story – when the Grandview police will announce they have found the person who committed the crime – still has no resolution.

The Dispatch reporter asked the police why they announced that the crime was not a random act at the time of the initial investigation. Officer Cohill, a police spokeswoman, had no answer to that question. Neighbor Wanda Jones, who found the body, said that the police have stopped asking questions and have given no updates. Cooke’s ex-husband, David Culbertson, is still referred to as a “person of interest” but no other info was given. His attorney said Culbertson has not heard from police since last fall.

Channel 4 has a story that was headlined “Police still pursuing leads”, but the question that is not answered – what leads? There has been nothing of substance announced in any of the anniversary stories.

Channel 10 has a headline, “New Evidence In Unsolved Grandview Heights Murder”, but the evidence they have found is only some video from a civil court hearing of a woman who said Cooke’s ex husband had been stalking her. If the accusations against Culberson are all true it would be an indication that he was a jerk. There is a long way to go between being a jerk and being a murderer. Sorry, Channel 10, unless you have some evidence of violence or threats of violence against Cooke, your “new evidence” is weak sauce.

Lady of the Lake Festival will be Sunday at the Library

Published August 22, 2013 by justicewg

A concert to benefit the  Jennifer Cooke Memorial Fund will be held this weekend. The Lady of the Lake Festival will take place from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, on the lawn of the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 W. First Ave. The lineup will include the McIans, Donna Magavoro, Billy Zenn & Pat Buzzard, C LA C I, Kyle Sowash, MillerKelton, Mike Wilson, doctah X, So Hard and ECC.