Could Samuel W. Legg be the killer police across Ohio have been searching for since Ronald Reagan was president?
On Thursday morning, the 49-year-old former big-rig driver stood before a Medina County judge on charges that he raped a 17-year-old girl near a truck stop outside of Seville 22 years ago.
Hours later, about 70 miles east, Mahoning County officials announced Legg's indictment for the murder of Sharon Lynn Kedzierski, who was found dead at an Austintown truck stop in 1992.
Officials have said DNA also links Legg, who most recently lived in Chandler, Arizona, to three other homicides — two in Ohio and one in Illinois.
All the victims were women left naked or partially clothed at truck stops, investigators said, but they have not yet revealed when or where those deaths occurred.
During the mid-1980s — when Legg was still a teen — and 1990s, investigators across Ohio found an alarming number of prostitutes slain near freeways.
Some investigators at the time suspected a serial killer was using his job as a truck driver to prey on women and dump their bodies along the routes he traveled.
Officials this week said the 17-year-old raped by Legg at a Medina County truck stop told investigators her attacker was a trucker.
She said she met him while hitchhiking home to Lexington, Ohio, after visiting her boyfriend in Cleveland.
Mahoning County officials Thursday didn’t speculate on how Legg met Kedzierski, but said they had no reason to believe she was involved in prostitution.
Kedzierski worked as a bookkeeper or in the income tax preparation field in Pembroke Pines, Florida, from 1979 until about 1982, her former husband told The South Florida Sun Sentinal.
She was last seen alive in Southeast Florida on a friend's doorstep in October 1989.
No one knew who Kedzierski was when her body turned up 1,200 miles away three years later in Ohio. She was found beaten and perhaps strangled at an Austintown truck stop, officials said Thursday.
A coroner’s report said she died from choking on her own blood.
Kedzierski’s body wasn’t identified for 21 years until her family’s quest to find her collided with new efforts by a former Mahoning County coroner to put a name on the unsolved case.
About 2011, Kedzierski’s daughters submitted their own DNA to a database called the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs.
Funded by the U.S. Justice Department, NamUs allows the public and law enforcement to provide DNA samples to the database in an effort to identify missing persons and unidentified remains. There is no charge.
Separately, but about the same time, a Mahoning County coroner submitted DNA from Kedzierski’s unidentified remains to NamUs, too.
There was a match. Kedzierski was identified, but investigators didn’t reveal her potential killer as Legg until Thursday.
Until now, Legg appears to have had no serious run-ins with the law.
Records show he’s lived in Cleveland, Massillon, Elyria and Arizona.
Officials said he had a commercial truck driver’s license and worked for an independent trucking company in Hinckley, criss-crossing much of the state and country for his job.
At least two of the victims in the string of slayings during the 1980s and 1990s had worked at an Austintown truck stop, though it wasn’t immediately clear if it was the same truck stop where Kedzierski was found.
Kedzierski was in her 40s. The other victims were mostly between their mid-20s to 30s. But all had been strangled or suffocated and beaten.
At least two were from Akron, according to newspaper accounts at the time, and a third was found in Medina County:
• Marcia Matthews, 25, of Akron, was last seen at a truck stop in Mansfield. She was found in June 1985 off of Intestate 70 in Richland County.
• April Barnett, 18, of Akron, was found in December 1985, strangled and dumped behind a guardrail on the southbound lanes of I-71 in Ashland County.
• Shirley Taylor, 22, of Virginia, was last seen at an Austintown truck stop. She was found strangled and beaten in July 1985 at a rest area on Interstate 76 near where Legg is accused of raping a 17-year-old in 1997.
The husband of a fourth woman killed — Anne Marie Patterson, 27, whose body was found in a sleeping bag in 1987 — told a reporter at the Pittsburgh Press that year that his wife and other prostitutes were having trouble with a truck driver who used the nickname “Dr. No.”
Before mobile phones, truckers and prostitutes communicated by CB radios.
Dr. No could be heard on public CB chatter trying to call prostitutes to his truck, with prostitutes — including Patterson — declining, Patterson’s husband told the newspaper.
Investigators at the time said they looked into it and found several truckers using the nickname “Dr. No.”
By 1991, there were at least 10 prostitute slayings that appeared to be connected in Ohio. Investigators from different parts of the state formed a task force that was led by the Medina County Sheriff’s Office.
This week, Attorney General Dave Yost traveled to Medina County and stood alongside the prosecutor and sheriff’s officials to announce Legg’s arrest.
Thursday morning, Legg seemed unmoved as the rape charges were read against him in court.
Legg, who officials said has been diagnosed as having schizophrenia, had been living in an Arizona group home before law enforcement brought him back to Ohio.
In court, he sat unblinking for minutes at a time as a gaggle of television cameras and reporters focused in, trying to get a better picture of who Legg is.