State Seeks To Take Deposition Of Key Witness With Cancer In 17-Year-Old Cold Case Murder

Monday, October 23, 2017
Sarah Perry
Sarah Perry

The District Attorney's Office is asking to take the deposition of a key witness in a 17-year-old cold case murder, saying he has cancer that had spread from his brain to other parts of his body.

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Michael Penterics has information in the case in which Jason Kirk Sanford, 44, of Westland, Mich, in charged in the June 2000 death of Sarah Lea (Davis) Perry.

Judge Tom Greenholtz asked that the state provide an affidavit giving more information about the condition of the witness. Another hearing will be next Monday morning.

DA Pinkston said the mother of Penterics gave information about his declining health to a Michigan police officer, who passed it on to his office.

He said Penterics earlier gave information about the case to detectives and is willing to testify, but may no longer be able to travel.

Defense attorney Johnny Houston raised issues about the current ability of the witness to testify since it was reported he had brain surgery.

Ms. Perry, who was 21 when she died, was last seen on the morning of Wednesday, June 14, 2000. The following afternoon two 12-year old boys playing in Spring Creek off the 1600 block of Springvale Avenue in East Ridge came upon a garbage can. One of the boys dared the other to open the lid. Inside the can was the partially nude body of Sarah Perry. The young mother, who had two small boys of her own, had been strangled. 

Just a few hours before she disappeared, Ms. Perry called East Ridge Police (at 4:11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 14, 2000) to request they check her home on Lockhart Lane for her estranged boyfriend, Jason Sanford. She said Sanford had threatened to hurt her and was trying to find her. An hour later, at 5:11 a.m., a police officer stopped to talk to her as she walked along the 6400 block of Ringgold Road. She told the officer Sanford was angry because she had ended their relationship. Several other witnesses reported seeing Ms. Perry in East Ridge. She was last seen alive at 8:30 that morning.  

The following evening, June 15, 2000, a few hours after the discovery of Ms. Perry’s body, Sanford bought a one-way ticket and boarded a Greyhound bus to Detroit. He has since been living in the Detroit metro area.  

Ms. Perry's mother, Pam Hilton, contacted the Cold Case Unit.  Detective Brian Ashburn, who is assigned to the CCU by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, talked with her and then began a review of the case file. He said he quickly recognized the case could be solved.  

Detective Ashburn and CCU investigator Michael Ray went to Detroit to conduct interviews in the case, then CCU Supervisor Mike Mathis presented the case to the Grand Jury.  

Sanford has been back in Hamilton County since August of last year, but a trial date has not yet been set.

Jason Sanford
Jason Sanford

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