US

Mother, 37, is convicted of murdering her husband’s Domino’s delivery driver ex-girlfriend

Erica Stefanko (pictured in mugshot) was convicted of aggravated murder and murder in the death of Ashley Biggs 

An Ohio mother was convicted of murder for luring her former husband’s ex-girlfriend – who worked as a pizza delivery driver – to her brutal death by placing a fake order in 2012. 

After 14 hours of deliberation, a jury on Wednesday found Erica Stefanko, 37, guilty of aggravated murder and murder in the death of 25-year-old army veteran Ashley Biggs. 

She will be sentenced in January and faces life in prison.  

‘Today, more than eight years after she was brutally murdered, justice has come for Ashley Biggs,’ said Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, per 19 News.  

‘Thank you to the jurors who, under these unusual and extreme circumstances, thoroughly reviewed the evidence and determined Erica Stefanko was responsible for Ashley’s death.’      

Biggs was strangled to death in New Franklin, Ohio in June 2012 amid a bitter custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, Chad Cobb, over their seven-year-old daughter.

Stefanko, who was married to Cobb at the time, assisted in the murder by placing a fake Domino’s Pizza order under an alias and luring Biggs to the parking lot of a closed business. 

Erica Stefanko (pictured in court on Monday) 37,  was on trial for the murder of Ashley Biggs, 25, who was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend in New Franklin, Ohio in June 2012

Erica Stefanko (pictured in court on Monday) 37,  was on trial for the murder of Ashley Biggs, 25, who was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend in New Franklin, Ohio in June 2012

Ashley Biggs (pictured with her daughter) was found strangled to death in a Ohio cornfield in 2012 v

Stefanko's ex-husband - and Biggs' ex-boyfriend - Chad Cobb is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to murder in 2013

Stefanko was accused of helping her ex-husband and Biggs’s ex-boyfriend Chad Cobb (right) murder the army vet (left) who was working as a Domino’s delivery driver, by placing a fake order to a closed business where she was later ambushed

When Biggs arrived to the isolated location with a large half-mushroom, half pepperoni pizza, Cobb shocked her with a Taser, brutally beat her and strangled her with a four-foot zip tie. 

Cobb threw Biggs’ deceased body in the trunk of her vehicle and abandoned the car in a cornfield near his parents’ home. 

Prosecutors said that Stefanko was with Cobb when she made the fake pizza order, but left him alone in the parking lot to murder Biggs. She followed Cobb to the cornfield and gave him a ride home after they dumped Biggs’ body. 

Cobb, who had a history of domestic violence, pleaded guilty to the murder in February 2013 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Stefanko, from Rittman, was arrested last fall after investigators received new information suggesting she had played a role in Biggs’s killing. 

By that time, she had divorced Cobb and married one of his childhood friends after he confessed to the murder.

Seven years passed by with little proof of Stefanko’s involvement until Detective Michael Hitchings secretly recorded a call between Stefanko and Cobb’s mother, Cindee.

Biggs and Cobb's daughter - identified only as G.C. - was only seven and had been in the care of her father at the time of her mom's death. The couple had been in the middle of a bitter custody dispute before Biggs was killed

Biggs and Cobb’s daughter – identified only as G.C. – was only seven and had been in the care of her father at the time of her mom’s death. The couple had been in the middle of a bitter custody dispute before Biggs was killed

Pictured: Erica Stefanko sits during her trial while defense lawyer Kerry O'Brien, delivers his opening statement on November 16

Pictured: Erica Stefanko sits during her trial while defense lawyer Kerry O’Brien, delivers his opening statement on November 16

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Stefanko admitted to ordering the pizza that night in an effort to cover up the murder.

‘Every time I hear a siren, I think, “They’re coming for me,”‘ Stefanko told Cindee Cobb, per the Akron Beacon Journal.

‘I carried out my part. I did exactly what he told me to do,’ Stefanko also reportedly said. She added that Cobb allegedly said he wanted to save Biggs’ skull ‘as a trophy.’

Stefanko confessed that the murder was a ploy to stop Biggs from getting custody of the couple’s young daughter, who testified against Stefanko during the most recent trial.

‘Evidence and testimony show that she did take part from beginning, middle and end,’ assistant prosecutor Felicia Easter said, according to Akron Beacon Journal.

All of this because of a custody battle—retaliation—all of this because of the dislike for Ashley Biggs and her gaining custody of G.C.’ 

At the time, Biggs was dating Brittney Dunson, who said Biggs got temporary custody of the child in 2011.  

Cobb has now denied murdering Biggs, despite his guilty plea, and said he only did so for a chance to get out of prison early. 

But Stefanko’s lawyers argued that Cobb had an entirely different reason to testify against her: revenge over Stefanko for marrying his childhood friend and raising their children with another man.

The court heard testimonies from Biggs's daughter and Cobb this week with both saying Stefanko (pictured) had placed the call that lured the delivery driver to her death

The court heard testimonies from Biggs’s daughter and Cobb this week with both saying Stefanko (pictured) had placed the call that lured the delivery driver to her death 

Cobb previously refused to work with police against Stefanko until 2017, when he said he missed seeing his children and agreed to implicate his ex-wife. Stefanko reportedly began denying him visits with his children.

‘Here’s a person who has admitted his guilt. Admitted that he beat, admitted that he strangled Ashley Biggs … and yet now he’s trying to get out of it. How credible is that kind of person,’ said Stefanko’s lawyer Kerry O’Brien, per Law & Crime

O’Brien also criticized Cindee Cobb, who revealed that she used a digital recorder to tape conversations with Stefanko in 2014, but that evidence wasn’t given to police until 2018.

‘The conversation is taped probably because of Chad Cobb telling her to do it,’ said O’Brien.

‘He wanted out of prison. The appeal didn’t work. Okay, that was Plan A. Let’s go with Plan B. Let’s see if my mom can get her to make some type of statement on a recording.’

‘Chad Cobb not only is the real guilty person, which the state agrees with me, but I would also argue that Chad Cobb has put together a plot not only to sink her [Stefanko] but his real reason here is … it’s real simple: it’s revenge.’

Biggs’s 15-year-old daughter recalled the moment she allegedly heard Stefanko lure her mom to her death on Wednesday.

The girl, who asked not to be photographed in court and was only identified as ‘G.C.’ said she had been sitting in the backseat of a car when she heard Stefanko place the phony pizza order.

She said Stefanko, who was in the passenger seat, ‘did not use her name’ during the call, but she could not remember the alias she used.

She neither could recall where the car was at the time but said it was ‘pitch black’ outside, the Beacon Journal reported. 

The girl added that she then fell asleep in the car and awoke the following morning at her grandparents’ house. 

G.C. was considered a key witness for the prosecution because her testimony would corroborate claims made by her father who this week agreed to testify against his ex-wife from prison via video. 

The defense however had opposed G.C. taking the witness stand, arguing that she was too young at the time of the murder. 

The court however ruled children over 10 are presumed competent to testify even if they weren’t of age at the time of the incident. 

G.C., who had spent the majority of her childhood under the care of her father and Stefanko, told the court she agreed to testify because she wanted to ‘get the truth out.’ 

She acknowledged she had pleasant and bad memories of her stepmother but revealed Stefanko ‘didn’t treat me right’ ‘and nobody really knew’, according to the paper. 

She said she believed her stepmom had been jealous of her relationship with her dad and claimed she had physically and mentally abused her. 

She also said she did not have any memory of her slain mother, who had left her in the custody of her father as a baby and later began a new relationship with a woman. 

At the time of Biggs’s death, the couple had been in a custody dispute and Cobb had feared he was going to lose his daughter, the paper reported. 

Earlier in the trial Cobb had also told the court how Stefanko had used a fake name to order a ‘large pizza with half pepperoni and half mushroom’ to a closed business in New Franklin. 

Police believe Stefanko lured Biggs to her death by placing a fake pizza order to this closed business in New Franklin, Ohio, in June 2012

Police believe Stefanko lured Biggs to her death by placing a fake pizza order to this closed business in New Franklin, Ohio, in June 2012

Stefanko, from Rittman, was arrested last fall after investigators received new information suggesting she had played a role in Biggs's murder and is facing multiple charges including aggravated murder

Stefanko, from Rittman, was arrested last fall after investigators received new information suggesting she had played a role in Biggs’s murder and is facing multiple charges including aggravated murder

When Biggs showed up to deliver the order, he ambushed her in the parking lot, strangled her, and put her body in the back of her car before dumping it in a cornfield, he said.  

When police later arrived on the scene in New Franklin, they found a large amount of blood on the ground outside the closed business.

Hours later, police found Biggs’ lifeless body in her car in a Chippewa Township cornfield.

Police immediately connected Cobb to the murder because a four-foot zip tie was used in Biggs’ strangulation, and he owned a cable installation company.

Cobb and Biggs were never married. In 2007, Cobb was awarded full custody of the couple’s daughter and for the four years immediately following the order, the girl seemed to live happily with him, his three other children and his wife, Erica.

Starting in October 2011, Biggs and Cobb traded insults via court orders: she complained that he changed his phone number and effectively violated a court order.

He complained that she was trying to alienate him from his daughter.

He also complained that Biggs had incorrectly told local authorities that he had taken their daughter out of the state, which would be a violation of their custody agreement.

Following Cobb’s incarceration, his wife and alleged accomplice, Erica, divorced him and in 2015 remarried, taking her new husband’s last name, Stefanko. 


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button