Forensic evidence helps investigators solve 1974 murder of 15-year-old girl in Reynoldsburg

By Eric Lagatta - The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

Investigators say they have solved a 47-year-old cold case after new forensic evidence led to identification of two men they believe murdered a 15-year-old girl on the west side of Reynoldsburg.

The body of Lori Nesson, an honors student at Columbus’ Eastmoor High School, was found on Sept. 28, 1974, a day after she had last been seen at a football game. But investigators were never able to find her killers and the case eventually went cold.

Investigators have now determined that the two men who were responsible for Nesson’s death were the same men convicted of assaulting and murdering a 17-year-old Whitehall girl a year later in the Blacklick area.

Those men — Charles Webber and of Columbus, Robert W. Meyer of Cincinnati — both dead. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Reynoldsburg Division of Police Chief Curtis Baker announced the news on Wednesday.

“Families deserve answers, even when years have passed since they lost their loved ones,” Yost said in a written statement. “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.”

At the urging of Nesson’s family, the Reynoldsburg Division of Police took a new look at the cold case in August 2019. Additionally, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office re-evaluated the original autopsy.

In January 2020, Reynoldsburg police submitted new case evidence to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

Late last year, a viewer who watched a WBNS-TV (Channel 10) news report about the cold case tipped off police that Nesson’s death had similarities to the case of Karen Adams, a 17-year-old Whitehall girl found assaulted and murdered in 1975 in Blacklick.

A new forensic evaluation of the physical evidence available enabled BCI investigators to develop DNA profiles that revealed Meyer and Webber were Nesson’s assailants.

Both men have extensive criminal histories, authorities say.

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 northwest Ohio. 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,” Chief Baker said in a statement. “We are honored to be able to give Lori Nesson’s family and friends the answers they deserved long ago.”

By Eric Lagatta

The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

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