More questions than answers a year after Liberty pond death


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By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS

sphillips@vindy.com

LIBERTY

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Loraine Lynn

Liberty Police Report for Loraine Lynn

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Liberty Police Report for Loraine Lynn

Loraine Lynn’s body was found face down in her mother’s pond on Shannon Road a year ago last week.

Police initially believed it was an accident, until the coroner ruled her death a homicide in March.

Her family, particularly her younger sister Diane Pullin, wants to know what happened to Loraine.

Liberty Township police initially believed Loraine, 60, who lived in Ravenna, was “cutting the yard with the tractor when it went into the pond,” according to a report.

Seven months later, Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk – in the last ruling he made before he died – ruled her death a homicide. Although a police report shows the case was closed the day it happened, the coroner filed the death certificate as “pending” on Aug. 4, 2017.

Kathy Meszaros, chief investigator for the current coroner, Dr. Thomas James, said after consulting with Dr. James and the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office, she cannot release files on the Lynn case or discuss it because it is now part of an active homicide investigation. This includes the late Dr. Germaniuk’s autopsy report.

Diane, however, said she spoke to Dr. Germaniuk before he died, and he believed Loraine died of asphyxiation, “at the hands of another.” The coroner said, according to Diane, that Loraine had no water in her lungs, despite being found in a pond.

Liberty Police Chief Richard Tisone said the department cannot comment on an open investigation.

Diane is speaking out about the case and wants anyone who knows something about it to come forward.

Diane, now of Jacksonville, Fla., said she was shocked when her sister’s death was initially deemed an accident. Loraine was in good health and was a heavy-machine operator for 30 years, Diane said. Plus, there was no seat belt or cage to hold her down to the tractor and prevent her from escaping, she said.

Something didn’t add up about what happened at the property that sits just north of Girard High School and backs up to state Route 11.

“There’s no way she could have driven into the pond,” Diane said. “Her body was placed there.”

When Dr. Germaniuk reversed the original ruling and deemed the case a homicide, Diane said she felt the family finally was told the truth.

Though it’s an active investigation now, Diane said she believes police didn’t take key evidence into serious consideration in the beginning.

The Aug. 2, 2017, Liberty Township police report says two officers were sent that afternoon to 1365 Shannon Road, and were met by Howard Pullin, Loraine and Diane’s brother, and Timothy Lynn, Loraine’s ex-husband, as well as Liberty firefighters.

Howard and Timothy had gone to the farm after family members called and asked them to check the area since Loraine wasn’t answering her calls, Diane explained.

Timothy told the officers he “was checking the area after locating his ex-wife’s vehicle ... when he located her in the pond laying [with] her face down” on top of a tractor attached to a brush hog, partially submerged ...”

Tisone and Capt. Toby Meloro, another captain and a sergeant arrived to assist.

“It appeared that Loraine was cutting the yard with the tractor when it went into the pond,” the report states, noting Tisone took photos, and Meloro contacted the coroner’s office. The narrative supplement is marked as “closed” that day.

There is an internal investigation going on within township police. It was revealed last week when Trustee Jodi Stoyak said she didn’t want to vote for Meloro as the interim police chief until an internal investigation is complete. Tisone’s last day as chief is Aug. 19. Township officials were silent on the nature of the investigation and who all it may involve.

The day before Loraine died, Diane said her sister told her she was going to go to their mother’s house on Shannon Road to get paperwork for their father’s estate.

She never mentioned mowing the lawn, Diane said.

Security footage from her mother’s house shows Loraine pulling into the driveway and going inside, Diane said. She then left, but a half-hour later, Diane said, the footage shows the car pulling back into the property. The white 2017 Nissan Pathfinder was found later behind a barn – which is out of the view of cameras, Diane said.

Behind the barn were glass and nails from her father’s construction materials. Loraine wouldn’t have parked her almost brand-new car there, Diane believes.

“Somebody hid it back there,” she said.

Police had access to the security footage that day.

The case is now with Liberty Detective Ray Buhala, who said police are working on the case daily. If anybody has information, he encourages them to call him at 330-539-9848.

Diane said she hopes any evidence and suspects can be brought before a grand jury.

“I would like them to come forward if they know something,” she said.

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