DNA leads to arrest in 1992 cold case
By Joe Gorman
It was the submission of DNA in 2011 and 2017 by investigators for the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office and Bureau of Criminal Investigation that helped officials secure an indictment in an unsolved homicide from 1992.
Indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury on charges of attempted murder and murder is Samuel Legg III, 49, of Chandler, Ariz.
He is charged in the death of Sharon Lynn Kedzierski, 43, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., whose body was found April 9, 1992, at a truck stop at Interstate 80 and state Route 46 in Austintown by someone walking a dog.
Kedzierski was not identified until 2013 after family members had submitted DNA to the National Missing And Unidentified Missing Persons System.
County Prosecutor Paul Gains said the case was not one he was actively pursuing, but once they were able to confirm that Legg was a suspect, he was interviewed by Austintown detectives. Then he was indicted.
In 2017, BCI analyst Lori Braunschweiger reviewed past DNA samples and found a familial DNA match that led her to Legg, whose DNA also was found at other suspected homicides outside Mahoning County. Investigators from Medina County used her analysis to travel to Arizona, where they got a DNA sample from Legg that matched the DNA collected at the Kedzierski homicide, Gains said.
That led police in Austintown to question him, Gains said.
“Basically, it’s the BCI analyst who really got this thing going,” Gains said.
In 2011, it was former coroner’s investigator Courtney Bouchie, now a Memphis police officer, who sent DNA samples from four unsolved crimes in Mahoning County to BCI to be studied to see if they could be linked to any crimes.
On Wednesday, officials in Medina County charged Legg with a 1997 rape. He was arraigned and is being held there on $1 million bond.
Kedzierski’s murder happened during the time span from 1985 to 1992 when the bodies of seven other women were found at truck stops in Ohio, which led to the formation of a task force to investigate the killings. Gains did not want to divulge many details of the case, but he did say that Legg had a commercial driver’s license at that time and that investigators were able to confirm Legg was in the area when Kedzierski was murdered.
At one point, another man was charged with Kedzierski’s murder because of bite-mark evidence, but BCI cleared him in 1993 because his blood type did not match the blood type found at the scene, and all charges against that suspect were dismissed, Gains said. Gains said Austintown police and coroner’s personnel did a fantastic job of collecting and preserving evidence, which allowed for Legg to be indicted.
Legg could not be charged with rape or aggravated robbery because the statute of limitations for those charges has expired. Kedzierski was raped before she was murdered, Gains said.
Don Corbett, a former Austintown detective who said he worked the case in 1994 as a cold case, said he was amazed at the advances in technology now that helped investigators link Legg to the crime.
“It’s amazing to believe you can do this and start solving cases,” Corbett said.
Corbett said he shudders to think how many victims might be out there after Legg’s arrest.
“What else has he done that we don’t know about?” Corbett said.