DNA evidence, public tip solves decades-old Ohio murder

New investigation brings closure to nearly 50-year-old cold case.
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 2:36 PM EST
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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WTVG) - A 47-year-old murder has finally been solved thanks to DNA evidence and a well-timed tip from a TV news viewer. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Reynoldsburg Police Chief, Curtis Baker, announced on Wednesday that new forensic testing helped to solve the 1974 murder of 15-year-old Lori Nelson.

Nelson was found dead on September 28 of that year on the west side of Reynoldsburg and was last seen at a school football game the night before, according to investigators. The case went cold due to the limitations of technology at the time. At the urging of Nelson’s family, the Reynoldsburg Division of Police took a new look at the case in 2019, asking the Franklin County Coroner’s Office to re-evaluate the autopsy and submitting evidence to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

During that time, a news report on WBNS-10TV in Columbus featuring the case prompted a viewer to call police, explaining that the Nelson case was similar to that of the 1975 assault and murder of 17-year-old Karen Adams in Blacklick. That connection, says the AG’s office, turned out to be true.

According to Attorney General Yost’s office, investigations were able to put together two DNA profiles of the likely assailants, who were then identified as Robert W. Meyer of Cincinnati, and Charles Webber of Columbus, both deceased. Investigators say the men met while serving prison sentences at the Ohio Penitentiary in the 1960s and were both freed in the early 70s.

“Justice looks different in this case – rather than a trial and conviction, this story seemingly ends at the identification of the deceased offenders,” Yost said. “But the memory of Lori Nesson will carry on through her family and friends.”

The men have now been linked to not only the murders of Adams and Nelson, but the kidnapping, assault, and attempted murders of two additional young women in Northwest Ohio. The men were arrested and convicted of the latter crimes in 1977.

“Families deserve answers, even when years have passed since they lost their loved ones,” Yost said. “This case was solved by pure determination by investigators, the application of modern DNA technology to a decades-old case and a well-timed tip from the public that proved to be true.”

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