Former Maumee man cleared of murder charges

Walter Zimbeck, formerly of Maumee, was arrested at his home in Tennessee Monday, July 20

A judge in Fulton County has dismissed the case against a former Maumee man accused in the 1985 murder of Lori Ann Hill.

Walter E. Zimbeck, 42, was arrested in July at his Strawberry Plains, Tennessee home and brought to Fulton County on murder charges. The arrest and charges came after an eight-month investigation by the Toledo Police Department's Cold Case Unit and the Fulton County Sheriff's Department.

On Friday, Fulton County Common Pleas Court Judge James Barber filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Zimbeck, citing lack of physical evidence against Zimbeck and the fact that many key witnesses have died since the incident over 20 years ago.

Zimbeck's attorneys claimed back in October that DNA evidence had cleared their client of any wrong-doing. Yet, the State of Ohio continued to pursue the case.

Amber VanGunten, who along with her father Gregory VanGunten successfully argued for Zimbeck's murder case to be dismissed says Steve Moden, Jr., a jailhouse informant, told anyone who would listen that he would do anything to get out of jail. "It became quickly apparent that the statements that were made to the police - if they had just looked into those a little bit you could see - that it was not even close to what had really happened," Ms. VanGunten said.

The prosecution in the case against Zimbeck has until Friday, Jan. 15 to appeal the judge's decision. If no appeal is made, Zimbeck will be released from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Lori Ann Hill went missing in October 25, 1985. She was last seen at Mr. G's Pizza in Swanton. Her nude body was found four days later in a wooded-area off County Road M in Pike Township, nearly 15 miles from where she was last seen. She had a gun shot wound to the head.

To see WNWO's October 1985 video coverage of Lori Ann Hill's disappearance visit Toledo Police Cold Cases.