MEDINA — Samuel Legg III made a first court appearance this morning in connection with a cold case from 1997 involving a 17-year-old girl that was allegedly raped by a truck driver in Medina County.
The case was reopened due to technological advances in DNA testing, and prosecutors used familial DNA testing to help locate Legg, who was living in Chandler, Arizona. Legg was brought back to Ohio last month when he was indicted for the 22-year-old crime.
The 49-year-old man appeared for arraignment for two counts of rape this morning in Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler’s court.
He remains in Medina County Jail on $1 million bond.
The Vindicator in Youngstown is reporting that Legg has also been indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury on three charges of aggravated murder and one of murder, relating to a woman found dead in Austintown in 1992. In a news conference this afternoon, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains noted that the aggravated murder specifications note they were in commission of rape and robbery, but the statute of limitations had expired for rape or robbery charges.
Kimbler ordered a competency test to determine Legg’s fitness for trial, and appointed attorney Dave Sheldon to represent Legg. Sheldon declined to comment after the hearing.
Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said Wednesday during a press conference that the charges stem from a crime that took place 22 years ago that was never prosecuted.
The now-near 40-year-old victim told authorities that she hitchhiked from her home in Lexington, Ohio, to visit her boyfriend in Cleveland in 1997. On her return trip to Richland County, she accepted a ride from Legg at a gas station at the state Route 224 exchange in Westfield Township on Interstate 71.
Authorities said Legg was an independent truck driver working for a company in Hinckley.
She told authorities Legg raped her, and first pursued charges outside of the county.
Lexington police requested a rape kit at a Mansfield hospital and turned it over to the Medina County Sheriff’s Office.
Thompson said the Medina County prosecutor’s office – then under the direction of Dean Holman – decided the evidence was not strong enough to bring charges against Legg in November 1997.
Even though the rape case was never prosecuted, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Wednesday that Legg’s DNA stayed in the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, “until our technology made a partial hit.”
In this case, forensic analysts took a DNA sample from an unknown male in an unrelated homicides and found that it was genetically linked to the rape kit in Medina County.
A search warrant was secured to get a DNA sample from Legg. Thompson and Sheriff’s Detective Kevin Ross flew to Arizona to get a blood sample, which positively identified Legg as the rape suspect.
Thompson submitted the evidence to a grand jury, which indicted Legg on two counts of rape in January.
He has also been linked to two homicides in Ohio and one in Illinois, but indictments on those separate cases have not been obtained.
Legg’s initial court appearance was attended by Nicole Myers, who said she believes Legg may be the person responsible for the death of her former best friend Angela Hicks, who was killed in Elyria in 1990.
She was a 14-year-old Westwood Middle School cheerleader who disappeared and her body was later found in a wooded area off of West River Road in Elyria.
Police questioned Legg, Hicks’ stepfather at the time of her disappearance, but no charges were ever filed.
The case has never been solved.
Following the hearing, Myers said she is looking for justice for her friend.
“I felt like, you know, maybe it is never going to get solved,” she said. “He is never going to have to answer for what happened to her.”
When she heard Legg was charged in an unrelated rape case for the 90s, Myers said she felt a lot of emotions.
“It was every feeling you could imagine, every emotion you can feel all at once,” she said. “… I hope with everything else whatever he is going to be charged with I hope he will be charged with Angela Hicks murder as well. I’m hopeful. I am never going to give up hope.”
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