Murder and miscarriage of justice in a rural communityThe townsfolk of Logan, Ohio, a mined-out area of the Appalachian foothills, cheered as an innocent man was convicted and sent to death row. The occasion was the conviction of Dale N. Johnston. His trial ended nothing; the tragedies had just begun. What really happened on that bitter cold day in January 1984 was the total collapse of the local criminal justice system.It began with a lovers' quarrel. On October 4, 1982, Johnston's stepdaughter Annette Cooper Johnston-an 18-year-old beauty contestant, horsewoman, and aspiring computer programmer-fought and quickly made up with her 19-year-old boyfriend, Todd Schultz. They were last seen walking together on the C&O Railroad tracks, crossing a trestle bridge over the Hocking River. Ten days later their mutilated torsos were found floating in the river. The next day their heads and limbs were found buried in a cornfield between the river and the tracks.Dale Johnston was the sole suspect from the beginning. It took a year, but investigators and prosecutors built a case against him, alleging he had kidnapped the victims near downtown Logan and killed them in the presence of his wife and his other stepdaughter at their mobile home ten miles outside of town.
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Kent State University Press
June 11, 2013
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