My personal account of the Homicide
in Lake Township Cemetery
Wood County, Ohio - March 14th, 1976
by Michael Gingrich from my personal journals.
I recently learned this homicide was solved as a cold
case in 2009.
Since I was there, as a Deputy Sheriff, and helped investigate
I'm posting my recollections from memory and my personal
journal entries. • Today July, 5, 2011
Below my story, on this page, is the updated information since this case has been solved using forensic evidence that was unavailable to us back in 1976. I thought it would be interesting to hear my point of view from that time. The photo of Larry shown here is fairly recent. He would have been in his early 20s at the time of this homicide. The disoriented look, in his eyes, hasn't changed. That's how I remember him.
Sunday, March 14, 1976, I was working the day shift. Wood County Detective Nick Nicholson was at the scene of this homicide in the Lake Township Cemetery and needed me to take a look at the body hoping I knew who the victim was since no ID was found at the scene. I didn't recognize her but had a few women in mind who she resembled to check out. Nick pulled the blanket down and I noticed rope marks around her neck. I was told she has scrapes on her knees and elbows but did not see this myself as I was looking only at her face.
The body was found by a woman who was visiting a gravesite. Walbridge Police (Officer Scarberry) was the first to arrive at the scene. Walbridge Police Chief Filippo DiPillo was there approximately 10:00 AM. He told me the body was still warm.
I picked up a roll of exposed 126 film from Walbridge PD. They had taken photos at the scene. I turned the film over to Wood County Sheriff Deputy, Sgt. D.J. Thompson, my shift Sergeant.
In 1976, each car was equipped with a fingerprint kit. These kits were kept in the trunk and didn't take long for them to become lost or damaged. If you carried a camera around on your shift, you were considered a nerd. Some might dispute that but that's the way it was during this time period at the Wood County Sheriff Department. How times have changed.
Larry was working the Wood County Garage. He was hired
through the CETA PROGRAM
( A late 1970s Jobs Program that didn't work during the Jimmy Carter Administration )
The Following comments are my own
of Larry before his was suspected of anything in Wood County.
' Larry was fairly short but stocky. He had a Southern Drawl. I saw him in passing at the Wood County Garage and spoke with him on a few occasions. I thought he was STRANGE. He had a look about him that made me think he may have been dropped on his head a few too many times as a child. I did notice whenever the subject of women came up, he would look the other way and appear he wasn't paying attention. '
In hindsight there's one thing for sure. Larry knew when Lake Township was being patrolled by the Sheriff Department. During this time Lake Township was contracting with the Wood County Sheriff Department for it's services of protection in Lake Township.
I also know that Larry E. Scott had a partner in the homicides. I haven't seen that addressed in any stories on the internet and for that reason, I'm not posting information I have on how Larry came to be the suspect. I can only tell you he didn't do these by himself.
I was told he had a record in Georgia. Known as the Georgia Peach.
Now here is the updated story I just became aware of.
Information Above Published Ago
Cold case murder ends
Updated: Friday, 06 Mar 2009, 9:50 PM EST
Published : Friday, 06 Mar 2009, 9:41 PM EST
By CHRIS MILLER, Sentinel Staff Writer
WOOD COUNTY - Nearly 33 years after Toledo resident Mary Brooks was strangled to death in Wood County, the man responsible for her murder has been convicted of the crime.
Former county employee and Bowling Green resident Larry E. Scott, 54, late Thursday afternoon appeared in Wood County Common Pleas Court with his attorneys and pleaded no contest to the 1976 murder of Brooks, who was 37 years old at the time of her death.
Judge Alan Mayberry accepted the plea and found Scott guilty of felony murder. The judge sentenced Scott to 15 years to life in prison. That sentence will run concurrent to a life prison term Scott already is serving for another 1976 murder he committed in Michigan.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson hopes Scott's conviction brings some level of solace for Brooks' friends and family.
"The prosecution was initiated so that the family of Mary Brooks could finally see some closure to a question that haunted them so long," Dobson said in a prepared statement released following Thursday's conviction.
"Now they know who murdered their loved one," he stated. "It's a blessing to the family of both of the victims and to the community that Larry Scott will not walk outside of a prison door for rest of his life."
Authorities say Scott, who was working for the county's highway garage back in 1976, sexually assaulted Brooks then strangled her to death. He left her unclothed body at a cemetery in Lake Township in northern Wood County. Her body was discovered March 14, 1976, by a woman visiting a grave site.
Scott was questioned by investigators back then. But police lacked enough evidence to arrest him for the murder.
Months later, in August, another woman, Florence Hemminger, 26, of Weston, was murdered by Scott. Her partially clothed body was discovered Aug. 7, 1976, in rural southeast Michigan. She had been stabbed to death. Hemminger was last seen alive in Bowling Green where she worked at a local restaurant, according to reports back then.
Scott was convicted of the Hemminger murder the following year in Michigan and sentenced to life in prison.
He was serving his life term at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson, Mich., when investigators here in Wood County began looking again into the Brooks cold case murder.
The Wood County Prosecutor's Office, working with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, had physical evidence taken from the murder victim's body back in 1976 tested for DNA using the latest in forensic technology. This testing was done a couple years before federal funding was made available for local cold cases, according to Dobson.
The DNA testing, conducted back in 2003, produced a genetic profile of the killer. Investigators then had to track down old acquaintances of the victim, and later Scott, to build their case. They eventually got a sample of Scott's DNA and were able to match it with the profile from the murder.
In June 2007, a Wood County grand jury formally indicted Scott for the murder of Brooks.
"It was one of the first cold cases we started looking at back then," Dobson said Friday morning. "Then we had to find people related to the incident, and that took a long time because you're talking about a 30-year-old case. Some of the (witnesses) had passed away since then."
Scott after his indictment in 2007 was transferred from his Michigan prison to the Wood County jail in Bowling Green. With Thursday's conviction, he'll be sent back to Michigan to serve his life prison term for the Hemminger murder.
Dobson praised the hard work of county and state investigators for bringing closure to the Brooks case.
"My hat goes off to the investigators in 1976 who put together a case that could withstand 33 years of scrutiny, and to recent investigators who realize murder cases don't close until the murderer is caught."