WAUSEON, OH (TOLEDO NEWS NOW) - After 27 years, a mistrial and finally the dismissal of murder charges against Walter Zimbeck, Rachel Hill says she is still convinced he killed her sister in 1985.
Lori Ann Hill, 14, was found dead by a deer hunter in the woods in Swanton in October of 1985. Lori Ann went missing after she left a pizzeria in Swanton. Her body was found the next day. Prosecutors argued that Zimbeck dated Lori Ann, and that anger after their break up led him to kill her.
Lori Ann's older sister Rachel says the crime has haunted her since that day.
"It's funny now. You look in the mirror now and you don't even know who you are," said Hill. "I did that this morning. It's like ‘whew, where did you go?' It's taken its toll. Its toll on my two kids, my granddaughter that overhears everything. I haven't had a chance in 27 years to miss my sister. It's been so consumed with catching Walt Zimbeck. If I think about her it hurts too bad. It's easier to keep fighting the battle."
Zimbeck was not arrested at the time of the murder, but was charged with and plead not guilty to the crime in 2008. The case was dismissed when a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to charge Zimbeck, but that ruling was reversed in 2009 and Zimbeck was again arrested. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict in the trial that followed, and a mistrial was declared. Prosecutors announced they would not seek a new trial Monday, and Zimbeck is now set to be released.
Hill says she still believes Zimbeck killed her sister.
"I hate you. I know that you killed Lori. I'm sorry your DNA can't be put in AFIS and CODIS because you weren't convicted of a felony," said Hill of Zimbeck.
The charges against Zimbeck were released without prejudice, which means Zimbeck could be charged again if new evidence is found. Hill says she has an idea of how that could happen.
"I'd like to raise the money to have my sister exhumed, because I know that Walt Zimbeck left something in that grave. I know it with all my heart. He used to leave note cards [saying] ‘Nobody can take you away from me now' and ‘you'll always be mine," said Hill.
Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.