Lake County

Suspected Serial Killer Faces Charges in 1997 Lake County Murder

A suspected serial killer in custody in Ohio has been charged with the 1997 murder of a woman at an abandoned truck stop near Illinois’ border with Wisconsin.

Samuel William Legg III, 52, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the death of 39-year-old Julie A. Konkol, according to a statement from the Lake County sheriff’s office.

The charges are the result of an investigation involving the sheriff’s office, the FBI and several Ohio law enforcement agencies.

“We are so thankful we were able to take the first steps of providing justice to Julie Konkol and her family,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said in the statement. “We always strive to be the voice of those who cannot speak anymore and always stand with victims as their advocates to ensure they can achieve justice.”

Samuel Legg III is accused of killing Julie Konkol in a brutal attack in 1997. According to prosecutors, Konkol, who was living in southern Wisconsin, was found strangled to death after the attack, her body dumped behind an abandoned truck stop in Russell, right on the state line.

“She would clean the interior and exterior of trucks,” Lake County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Christopher Covelli said. “While they would get something to eat in Russell. We believe that’s what she was doing at the time of her death.”

Legg, her accused killer, was a truck driver at the time.

“He certainly used his profession and industry to go to these scenes and to leave very little thumbprint,” Covelli said. “He would hop in his truck and get out of Dodge as soon as he committed these crimes. It certainly made it challenging for our detectives in the 1990’s.”

Even after 23 years, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s cold case unit and the FBI Chicago field office were among the agencies who kept doggedly working to solve the heinous crime.

“There are advancements in technology and in DNA evidence,” Covelli said. “Thankfully, that’s what broke the case.”

Several events had to transpire before Legg could be brought to justice. In 2006, DNA from her case was matched with a 1996 homicide in Wood County, Ohio, officials said. The same suspect’s DNA was matched in 2012 to a 1992 homicide in Mahoning County, Ohio.

In 2018, the suspect’s DNA was tested looking for a familial or direct connection, which led investigators to Legg. He was “found to be a one-in-one-trillion match as being the source of the DNA found on Konkol,” the sheriff’s office said.

“Because Mr. Legg had not been convicted of a felony, his DNA had not been submitted to the database,” Covelli said. “This was a huge break in the case. If he’d made it his entire life without being convicted of a felony that would have put his DNA into CODIS, and we didn’t have this break in the case, it is very likely this case would have gone unsolved.”

In Jan. 2019, Legg was arrested in an Ohio sexual assault case from 1997. He was living in Arizona at the time and was extradited to Ohio to face charges. He was later charged with the 1992 murder of a woman in Ohio.

After DNA evidence linked him to Konkol’s death, Lake County sheriff’s investigators traveled to Ohio to interview him in connection with the case. He is now facing murder charges, and his bond has been set at $3 million in the Lake County case.

Now, a killer may have finally been brought to justice, and Covelli says that it comes as a welcome relief to Konkol’s family, who have waited more than two decades for today’s news.

“For a case like this, which for 23 years had been in limbo, I certainly know that the 14-year-old boy, who’s now an adult, knows his mother’s killer is being held to justice,” he said. “It’s a tremendous feeling.”

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