By Samantha Phillips
The daughters of the 60-year-old woman found dead, partially submerged in a Shannon Road pond in 2017, have filed a federal lawsuit against two township trustees and some members of the police department.
The daughters of the woman who was found dead, half-submerged in a Shannon Road pond in 2017 filed a federal lawsuit against two township trustees and some members of the police department, alleging the investigation into Loraine Lynn’s death was inadequate.
The suit, filed Wednesday, alleges the investigation into Loraine Lynn’s death was inadequate, violated her due-process rights and marred any hope of justice for the family.
“With this filing, the Lynn sisters continue their quest to seek both answers and justice for their mother’s killing. Also with this filing, the Lynn sisters now also broaden their efforts to ensure the law enforcement’s mistakes reflected in the complaint are never repeated again in Trumbull County, Ohio,” said Eric Holloway, the attorney representing Corrine and Samantha Lynn.
He is with the Dublin-based law firm Eric Holloway Law Group.
The suit targets the township, police Chief Toby Meloro, police Capt. Steve Shimko, former police Chief Richard Tisone and trustees Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar.
Loraine Lynn’s body was found Aug. 2, 2017, on a small tractor partially submerged in her mother’s pond. She had been missing since Aug. 1, and was found by her brother, Howard “Chip” Pullin, and her ex-husband, Timothy Lynn, after frantic calls by Corrine and Samantha.
Police initially deemed her death a tractor accident, but her family remained suspicious because she had operated equipment such as excavators for decades.
Former Trumbull County Coroner Humphrey Germaniuk ruled Loraine Lynn’s death a homicide six months after her body was found. According to the complaint, the coroner told the daughters Loraine had no water in her lungs and had apparently died before entering the water.
The lawsuit primarily revolves around claims that Loraine’s constitutional rights to due process were violated because the homicide was inadequately investigated, alleging that police ignored evidence of possible criminal activity, didn’t immediately contact the county sheriff’s office or the county coroner and took no action when Samantha Lynn reported her concerns of a possible murder motive, that a family feud led to her mother’s death.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages in an amount to be established at trial and punitive damages against the defendants among other demands.
It notes that thousands of dollars were spent on a private investigation into the death of their mother, along with $3,000 that was paid to an outside agency to investigate the tractor, funeral expenses and more than $3,000 for billboards seeking tips from the public about the homicide.
Samantha and Corrine suffered mental distress from the incident, the complaint states, including anxiety and anguish over their mother’s death and subsequent events.
The township police department has faced criticism from the family and some township residents that there wasn’t enough done once Loraine’s body was found.
Tisone, who had been the township police chief at the time of the incident, ordered an internal investigation into then-police Capt. Toby Meloro in August 2018 for the handling of the investigation. Tisone, police Sgt. Michael Shuster and Shimko were also at the scene.
Interviews of the family were not taken, and suspicious security footage was not watched in its entirety, the lawsuit alleges. The internal investigation and a probe by private investigator firm Frederick & Associates concludes this as well.
Security footage showed Loraine’s car pulling back into her mother’s property not long after she had initially left to handle her father’s estate papers, the lawsuit says. The car had been parked behind a barn on top of glass and other rough materials, out of sight of the cameras.
The lawsuit and investigation both claimed the vehicle itself had not been properly processed for evidence.
Tisone had recommended after the internal investigation that Meloro receive discipline. He did not.
Instead, trustees Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar soon after promoted him to be police chief, noting his long-standing record with the township.