Trumbull prosecutor urges parole board to keep Judith Delgros in prison
Judith Delgros, 62, was free for 15 years after killing her third husband and 5-year-old son in 1978. Trumbull County’s prosecutor doesn’t want to see that happen again anytime soon.
By Ed Runyan
Judith Delgros, 62, spent 15 years free between January 1978, when she killed her husband and 5-year-old son, and 1993, when she was convicted of the murders.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins is trying hard to make sure Delgros isn’t free again anytime soon.
Delgros killed Donald Morris, 41 by stabbing him several times and killed Christopher Styles by setting fire to the trailer on Orangeville-Kinsman Road in Vernon Township where the family of five lived.
Delgros was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison after being convicted of two counts of aggravated murder. She is eligible for her first parole hearing next month.
The fire covered up some of the evidence connecting her to the crimes, and other evidence wasn’t sufficient in 1978 for authorities to charge her.
Detective Dan D’Annunzio of the county sheriff’s office, now retired, worked on the case in 1978 but was reassigned to road-patrol duties shortly after the investigation began.
A ruling by the county coroner at the time, Dr. Joseph Sudimack, was that the deaths were accidental, and no autopsies were ordered.
D’Annunzio again was assigned to detective duties in 1993 and reopened the case, finally coming up with the evidence he needed to charge Delgros when one of Delgros’ children, Edward Bridge, told D’Annunzio what he witnessed the night of the fire.
Bridge, who was 9 in 1978, was serving prison time in Pennsylvania when he told D’Annunzio that his mom and Morris argued that evening, Delgros hit Morris in the head with something, then stabbed him in the back with a steak knife.
Bridge later passed a polygraph test, leading to the arrest of Delgros in Greenville, Pa., where she was living with her fourth husband.
Watkins, in a letter to the parole board, said Delgros, who was 27 at the time of the killing, had three children from two previous marriages in 1978, including Bridge, Styles and a 6-year-old boy.
“This being 1978, there were no forensic pathologists in Trumbull County [and very few at the time in Ohio],” Watkins wrote. Dr. Sudimack accepted the conclusion of the Vernon Township fire chief, who ruled the deaths were accidental.
But many parts of the case didn’t add up, causing D’Annunzio and the Johnston Township fire chief to question the accidental rulings.
For one, a severed male human ear was found “in pristine condition” near the house, and a sheriff’s deputy noticed a missing ear on Morris’ body later at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
And though Delgros said the fire started with an explosion, Morris’ nephew, who lived in a trailer 10 feet away, said he heard no explosion.
Judith Delgros also was observed laughing on the ride to the hospital, she was fully dressed even though she said the family was sleeping at the time of the fire, and Delgros “made no effort to save her children,” Watkins said.
Morris’ body was exhumed in 1993, and a forensic pathologist from Summit County determined that he died from stab wounds.
Capital punishment wasn’t in effect in 1978, when the murders occurred, Watkins said, or Delgros would have most likely received that punishment.
“There is a special place for persons who murder their own children, and it is not in Ohio, the United States, or any other land on Earth and afterwards, it is not heaven. It is prison, then that other place,” Watkins wrote.