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Wrong man on death row as murder of Todd Schultz and Annette Cooper takes decades to solve

Todd Schultz and Annette Cooper
Todd Schultz and Annette Cooper were killed and dismembered in brutal fashion

This week on The Perfect Suspect, the murder and mutilation of a popular young couple finds the wrong man jailed for their deaths.

October 1982 in Logan, Ohio, and 19-year-old Todd L. Schultz and his 18-year-old fiancé Annette Cooper were reported missing.

It was unusual for the pair to go off without telling anyone and with Schultz being a volunteer firefighter and Cooper a college student, their families were concerned at this out of character disappearance.

10 days later a gruesome discovery was made in the shape of their torsos were found in the Hocking River, with their heads and limbs turning up just over a week later in a nearby cornfield. The police deputy also found a man lurking amongst the corn stalks, he was Kenny Linscott and he’d actually called the police a few days before the bodies were found to ask if there had been any progress.

He also had suffered a deep wound to his arm the night the couple were killed and even his wife thought he might be the killer.

However, police were targeted Cooper’s step-father Dale Johnston and evenutally they charged him with murder. A three judge panel convicted him and in 1984 he was sent to death row. Luckily for Johnston an appeal in 1990 saw him freed, with improper interrogation techniques and confession coercion by the police being exposed.

Later Linscott would admit he held the lifeless limbs of the two teenagers as Chester McKnight, the real killer, cut up their bodies.  The truth would only emerge over 20 years later when a probation happened to ask

The couple seemed to have been at Linscott’s house before they left on the pretext of partying with him and McKnight. It seems that McKnight had planned to rape Cooper and to kill her boyfriend if he objected. Schultz did object and he was shot six times before a screaming Cooper was also shot dead. Linscott and McKnight then stripped them so they could be dismembered, though not before McKnight masturbated over Cooper’s naked dead body.

Finally on  Sept. 2, 2008, McKnight was sentenced to two life terms and Linscott pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse, he was released after 10 months.

Johnston said at the time of their convictions: ” I’m at peace with it. My daughter is dead. Todd is still dead. I lost seven years of my life. You can’t change it.”

The Perfect Suspect airs at 9 PM on Thursdays on Investigation Discovery. 

James Wray

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