DNA, Public Tips Help Solve 1974 Murder

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 DNA, Public Tips Help Solve 1974 Murder

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Reynoldsburg Division of Police Chief Curtis Baker announced that forensic testing has solved the 1974 killing of a 15-year-old girl.

“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.”

Lori Nesson, an honors student at Columbus’ Eastmoor High School, was found deceased on Sept. 28, 1974, on the west side of Reynoldsburg. She had last been seen after a school football game the night before. Constrained by the technology available at the time, the case grew cold as investigators were unable to figure out what had happened to Nesson.

The Reynoldsburg Division of Police took a new look at the cold case in August 2019, at the urging of Nesson's family, and asked the Franklin County Coroner’s Office to re-evaluate the original autopsy. Reynoldsburg Police then submitted case evidence to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in January 2020.

Late last year, WBNS-10TV in Columbus featured Lori’s case. A viewer tipped off police that her case had similarities to the case of Karen Adams, a 17-year-old Whitehall girl found assaulted and murdered in 1975 in Blacklick—a lead that turned out to be true.

In its forensic evaluation of the physical evidence in Lori’s case, BCI developed two DNA profiles of her likely assailants. The two were identified as Robert W. Meyer of Cincinnati and Charles Webber of Columbus, both of whom are now deceased but had extensive criminal histories.

“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.”

Before the attack on Nesson, Meyer was convicted of murder in 1963 and spent 10 years in the Ohio Penitentiary, where he met Webber, a fellow inmate. Both were freed in the early 1970s and are now known to be responsible for the deaths of Nesson and Adams, along with the kidnapping, assault and attempted murder of two additional young women in the northwest Ohio area. In 1977, the pair was convicted of those crimes and incarcerated.

“I appreciate our relationship with the agencies that worked cooperatively to solve this case,” said Chief Baker. “They include the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Franklin County Coroner, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus Police Department. Reynoldsburg Police Officer Craig Brafford led this cold case murder investigation, and his relentless pursuit for answers brought us to where we are today. We are honored to be able to give Lori Nesson’s family and friends the answers they deserved long ago.”

Republished courtesy of Ohio Attorney General.  Photo credit: Forensic scientists testing evidence in the case. Credit: Ohio Attorney General.