Cold case suspect was person of interest in 1985
Wed, 22 Jul 2009 00:19:58 GMT —
Police arrested a suspected killer has been in Tennessee late Monday night for the murder of 14-year old Lori Hill.
The suspect is a man police interviewed back in 1985, days after the Swanton teenager's nude body was found by a deer hunter.
Lori Hill's brutal murder shook her small town.
"Things like this just don't happen in Swanton," said Elaine Bierie.
Hill was found beaten and naked a few days after her disappearance in October of 1985.
Tom Bates was Swanton Police Chief then and a close friend of Lori's family.
"Lori was just a nice young kid and didn't deserve to be treated that way by anyone," said Bates.
He worked tirelessly on the case but eventually it went cold.
The case was re-opened this year, then Monday, an arrest.To see WNWO's October 1985 video coverage of Lori Ann Hill's disappearance visit Toledo Police Cold Cases .
Police have charged 42-year old Walter E. Zimbeck, a former Maumee resident now living in Tennessee.
Zimbeck's arrest did not come as a total surprise to Bates.
"He had a relationship with Lori," said Bates. "To what extent, I'm not sure, but he was one that had been interviewed previously."
But back then, there was not enough evidence to arrest him.
Bates says two things could have blown open the case:
"Number one is the advanced technique in evidence analysis and the other one was that perhaps individuals who had knowledge but at that time were a little reluctant to come forward might be willing to share," said Bates.
Lori was last seen walking on the streets of Fulton County. But before that, she stopped at what used to be known as Mr. G's Pizza.
Lori reportedly talked to a friend and made a phone call and, just perhaps, it was information learned from those actions that finally led to an arrest.
Bates says, he is just glad this case is finally one step towards closure.
"Just because time goes by doesn't mean you're going to get away with the crime and when you get the right people in the right place at the right time, justice will prevail," said Bates.
It was Lori's sister Rachel that kept the search for the murderer alive after all these years.
Lori's parents, unfortunately, did not live to see this arrest.