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Murder charges dismissed in Fulton County cold case

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Murder charges dismissed in Fulton County cold case

Post by bluegill on January 13th 2010, 10:08 am

WAUSEON -- The man accused of killing a Swanton girl in 1985 could be released from jail this week following dismissal of all charges against him in Fulton County Common Pleas Court.

In a ruling made public Monday morning, Judge James Barber acknowledged that granting a defense motion to dismiss the charges "is an extremely rare proceeding for good reason" but was warranted in the case of Walter Zimbeck II, the former Maumee man indicted last year on one count each of aggravated murder and murder.

He was an ex-boyfriend of 14-year-old Lori Ann Hill, whose body was found by a hunter in Fulton County 24 years ago. Miss Hill disappeared the night of Oct. 25, 1985, after a Halloween party on South Munson Road in Swanton. She was last seen on South Berkey-Southern Road about 100 yards from her home.

Four days later a deer hunter found Miss Hill's naked body in a wooded area about seven miles northeast of Wauseon. The coroner said she had been beaten with an object such as a tire iron.

Mr. Zimbeck was arrested July 20 at his home in Strawberry Plains, Tenn., near Knoxville. That was the result of an eight-month investigation by the Toledo-Lucas County cold-case unit and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

Mr. Zimbeck has been an inmate at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker and the judge said that, pending an appeal by the Fulton County prosecutor's office, he will be released on Friday.

In his journal entry posted Monday, Judge Barber said that he decided to dismiss the charges because the prosecution's case was based solely on witness testimony, rather than on any physical evidence.

He further noted that some of that testimony was discovered after the indictment had been filed.

In November, an inmate at CCNO stated that Mr. Zimbeck had given him a "full confession of the murder he committed 24 years ago. He also gave me the reason for the motive and how he committed the murder," and, too, the inmate stated in a letter, Mr. Zimbeck provided names of people who lied to help him from being arrested.

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