A 52-year-old Arizona man has been charged with strangling a woman to death in Lake County over 20 years ago and is suspected of killing several others in Ohio, police announced.
An arrest warrant for Samuel William Legg III, 52, of Chandler, Arizona, was approved on Wednesday by a Lake County judge for two counts of first-degree murder.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), authorities in Medina County, Wood County, Lorain County, and Mahoning County Ohio, collaborated and worked closely together throughout the extensive investigation.
Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg announced the charges against Legg in the 1997 murder of Julie A. Konkol, who was 39 years old.
Konkol’s body was found behind an abandoned truck stop at Old Route 41 and Russell Road in Russell on October 23, 1997, Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.
The abandoned truck stop was known at the time as Senter’s, 43067 Old Route 41 in Russell.
An autopsy was conducted and Konkol’s death was ruled a homicide caused by asphyxiation from manual strangulation.
The sheriff’s office conducted an extensive investigation and her case went cold after all leads were exhausted, Covelli said.
In 2006, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) linked DNA collected from Konkol’s homicide with a 1996 homicide in Wood County, Ohio, and again in 2012 with a 1992 homicide in Mahoning County, Ohio.
The DNA was said to have been from an unknown male at the time.
Legg’s DNA was not logged in CODIS because he had not been arrested or convicted of a felony since collecting began, which resulted in the collected DNA samples being labeled as an unknown male.
The unknown male contributor’s DNA was tested in 2018 to look for a familial or a direct connection. A familial connection was found.
This connection was investigated and the link steered investigators to a break in the cases. Legg was found to be a one-in-one-trillion match as being the source of the DNA found on Konkol, Covelli said.
Legg was an over the road truck driver working in the Midwest and living in Ohio at the time of the homicides.
Medina, Ohio authorities obtained an arrest warrant in January 2019 for Legg in a separate 1997 sexual assault case.
Legg was living in Arizona at the time and was arrested and extradited to Ohio. He was then interviewed by Lake County Sheriff’s detectives and Ohio authorities regarding the homicides.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office approved the first-degree murder charges for Legg in the Konkol case. A judge set the bond on Legg’s warrant for $3 million.
“We are so thankful we were able to take the first steps of providing justice to Julie Konkol and her family. We always strive to be the voice of those who cannot speak anymore and always stand with victims as their advocates to ensure they can achieve justice,” Sheriff John Idleburg said.
“Even if investigative leads on a case begin to go cold, we will never allow a victim’s case to collect dust on a shelf, our Cold Case Unit regularly looks at them in our relentless pursuit of justice for victims,” Idleburg added.
“This is a great example of what can happen when law enforcement agencies work together,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim.
“This case has been a dark cloud hanging over Lake County for nearly 25 years. But, through the gallant effort and tenacity of numerous law enforcement agencies and people involved, a murderer will finally answer for his crime,” Nerheim said.
“My thanks goes out to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, several law enforcement agencies in Ohio and employees from the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office for seeing this investigation through,” Nerheim added.
Legg is currently being held in the Medina County, Ohio jail. He will soon face extradition to Lake County.