Ed Meyer

The man convicted of the strangulation death of his pregnant wife 30 years ago was sentenced Tuesday morning to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years.

Scott David Purk, 53, already is serving a 28-year prison term in connection with his 2012 guilty plea to attempted murder and aggravated arson for setting fire to his Uniondale Road home in Stow in an attempt to collect insurance money.

Combined with the sentence for the 1985 murder of his wife, Margaret Purk, he would not be eligible to appear before the state parole board until 2057, prosecutors said.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Todd McKenney, who presided over Purk’s six-day murder trial earlier this month, added a three-year prison term for tampering with evidence.

Both the life sentence and the three-year sentence were ordered to run consecutively and will begin after Purk’s prison term is complete in the arson case, prosecutors said.

“Justice has no time limit,” Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a prepared statement. “For 30 years, Scott Purk lived his life claiming his pregnant wife committed suicide.”

Margaret Purk’s family, she said, “can now rest easy” knowing that he will pay for killing her.

She was 24 and ready to give birth within days to their first child in March 1985, after being married to Purk for three years. They were living at a Timber Trail apartment in Akron at the time.

Trial testimony showed that Scott Purk made the 911 call, met paramedics at the apartment doorway and later told detectives that his wife hanged herself from a second-floor stairway railing.

The first autopsy, by what was then the Summit County Coroner’s Office, determined that the death was a suicide.

Walsh thanked Stow Police Sgt. Ken Mifflin for his work in an investigation that led to the murder indictment following the 2011 exhumation of Margaret Purk’s body.

According to trial testimony, Mifflin began looking into the case after responding to the fire at Purk’s home in March 2009.

Purk was married at the time, with his wife and two teenage children present when the fire broke out. He began talking “out of the blue” about his first wife’s death, Mifflin said.

The sergeant became suspicious about Purk’s comments, went to Akron police — the first investigating agency in Margaret Purk’s death — and began reviewing the original police reports and autopsy records. The ensuing probe then led to a grand jury’s murder indictment of Scott Purk in January 2014.

Purk was not indicted for the 1985 death of his stillborn child because Ohio law did not have such a criminal statute at the time, according to prosecutors.

Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or emeyer@thebeaconjournal.com.