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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 young couple leads to the wrong man being jailed for their deaths.

In October 1982 in Logan, Ohio, 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. With Schultz being a volunteer firefighter and Cooper, a college student, their families were concerned at this out-of-character disappearance.

A gruesome discovery was made ten days later when their torsos were found in the Hocking River. The couple’s heads and limbs turned up just over a week later in a nearby cornfield. The police deputy also saw a man lurking amongst the corn stalks. His name was Kenny Linscott, and he’d called the police a few days before the bodies were found to ask if there had been any progress.

He’d also 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 eventually, 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 after improper interrogation techniques and coercion by the police were 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 officer 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 appears 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.

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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 ten months.

At the time of their convictions, Johnston said: ” 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 has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact or follow him on Twitter.

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